Why self-care matters

By Caitlin Kelly

Maybe you know this classic 1928 song?

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Eat an apple every day
Get to bed by three
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

You get the idea…If you love someone, you want them to stay safe and healthy!
Are you including pleasure in your daily life?
Are you including pleasure in your daily life?
But what if that weary, worn-out, frazzled person is you?
It’s an interesting challenge in an era of economic fear and anxiety, a time when people who actually have paid work are terrified to be seen as slow, lazy — worst of all, disposable.
Here’s a recent post by Small Dog Syndrome, a 27-year-old who recently moved from the U.S. to London, about her struggle to find time for self-care:
I’m starting to feel a bit depleted and stress is taking a very real toll on my health. Even if it’s for a job or in a field you love, doing work without pay is grueling, on the soul as well as the body. And spending time working on those projects has the very real potential to impact my freelancing work negatively – no one’s at the top of their game when chronically sleep deprived.
Many American workers, those who even get paid vacations, are too scared to actually take the time off, or too broke to go anywhere.
So they keep driving their exhausted minds, spirits and bodies like machines at a vicious, speeded-up industrial pace. We’re all becoming Charlie Chaplin movie out-takes.
But it’s no comedy.
I recently did something that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. I had three deadlines to meet and editors driving me insane with endless demands. Instead of staying glued to the computer, fed up and resentful at their insatiability, I snagged a cheap ticket to a show I’d been wanting to see for years, the musical “Once.”
I went to a Wednesday matinee.
It was heaven. I came home refreshed by pleasure.

Good thing too, since the next two days proved to be completely hellish and the week ended with an editor killing my story — after weeks of work, costing me $750 in lost income.

Tea helps!
Tea helps!

In response? I made a pot of tea, put some chocolates on a tray and ended my crappy Friday with a pile of glossy fashion magazines.

It takes effort to make time to care for yourself.

Here are some of my favorite ways to do so:

— a pedicure

— a pot of hot tea every day at 4 or 5:00 p.m.: hydrating, comforting and fragrant

— a massage

— having fresh flowers and/or plants in every room

— going for a walk

— calling a friend

— taking dance class two to four times a week

— listening to music

If we don’t make time for pleasure, what on earth are we doing?

Are you taking good care of yourself these days?
If not, why not?
If so, what are some of the things you do to stay healthy and happy?

29 thoughts on “Why self-care matters

  1. I do know this song. Now that it’s stuck in my head, (thank you for that), the lyrics have new meaning. Taking time for myself has only become a priority for me in the past few years, in my 40’s. I’m happy that “Small Dog Syndrome” has already learned this lesson in her 20’s. We can all benefit from a little more “me” time.

    1. It’s “normal” for many women to take care of everyone else and forget to care for themselves…then wonder why we’re bitchy or withdrawn or resentful. Martyrs are annoying.

  2. good for you caitlin, it’s the easiest thing in the world to avoid, taking care of ourselves. i love the film ‘once’ and that is a show i’d love to see. as for me, i walk downtown, work in my garden, create collage art projects, take warm baths, and hang out with the grandies and friends. all great stress relievers for me.

  3. Thanks for the shout out, and all the really good advice! I carved out almost the entire weekend, caught up on my sleep, went to the market for baked goods with Jeff, and we’re now catching up on Game of Thrones. It’s already making a huge difference.

    1. Yay! Good for you…Jose and I just had a perfect Sunday: a walk beside the reservoir, then train into NYC to see The Substance of Fire (great play), drinks at Sardi’s (!), then dinner out. My shoulders feel normal again.

  4. I do, I am taking care of myself. I think it’s hard for women, especially mothers, to realize they need and deserve to take time to care for themselves, but I’d like to think we’re slowly waking up to how important we are!
    My whole body thanks me for herbal tea, but my face actually shows its gratitude.

    1. You can’t be much use to anyone if you’re a worn-out grouch. Too many people slave themselves into being someone no one wants to be around — I am amazed (sadly) but how little some mothers are willing to delegate to older children and husbands to give themselves more time for themselves.

  5. Very timely topic, Caitlin! Coincidentally, I just finished doing something decadent, because I wanted to…

    Over the past 4 days I have been herding cats facilitating a visit for my brothers to meet our step-mother for the first time, to take her out for her first Mother’s Day (at 89, no less!) Interesting story…

    But, fabulous as this has been, it has taken a toll getting everyone to Texas from east and west coasts, serving as shuttle service from Austin to the Hill Country, and chief go-between for all parties.

    As I checked us in for our flights home tomorrow, thinking of how we have to get up in just a few hours and I will have a three hour drive back from Philadelphia to DC, I decided to upgrade my brother and I to first class. I am looking forward to a relaxing flight!

    I have never done that before, but after this weekend, it was as needed as your matinee, I assure you! I am happily following your well timed advice. 😉

  6. I hear that repeated homily about how women always put others first, as two readers have said here. Really?. It’s not true of my sisters, my women friends, the female bloggers I follow, or me. Just saying, it’s not my experience, and I wonder if these truisms do more harm than good.
    Sometimes after a stressful day like you described, I make sure to give myself a treat. It’s not that hard to do!

  7. My mom worked incredibly hard at two or sometimes three jobs while also caring for us, but she always kept a sense of wonder at the natural world and used the outdoor walking that was part of her work on our farm as rejuvenation. I try to emulate that by walking every day and making sure it’s not all about exercise but trying to carefully observe the signs of natural process in plants and landscapes day by day. I also try to read for pleasure for at least 30 minutes each night .

    1. What a great role model you had! We went for our walk yesterday morning along the reservoir, and I love knowing it so well I can see the changes in every season.

      Reading for pure pleasure is a lovely thing. I lose a lot of time “keeping up” with newspapers and magazines, but am reading three books right now just for fun.

  8. Deficio

    Staring into space, playing with the dog, a double-shot of espresso, pulling out a few weeds, trying to tell the difference in bird songs, and, oddly enough, taking care of someone else.

  9. it reminds me of this child of a friends that I was watching her learn to babble and talk and understand the world around her. The baby cries, and looks for a reason to stop crying…if none is offered…the baby continues to cry, hoping to be consoled. If we teach the kid to do something else and the face of perceived misery…I think that’s a valuable lesson after reaching this. We could have a very bad day, and be stressed to the nines, but if we don’t slow down…take time for ourself…or do something that makes us happy….we are destined to just keep focusing on how upset we are….and that no one can do anything about it….except ourselves.

  10. Pingback: Getting Better at Self-care | A Bringer of New Things

  11. It’s amazing how we have to be reminded that rest and enjoying one’s life is is important.

    You’re right.

    “If we don’t make time for pleasure, what on earth are we doing?”

  12. I care for myself mostly by reading. My favorite book is the Bible. It reminds me that I am valued, a message that I appreciate.
    I also enjoy watching sports and listening to music – both contemporary praise and worship, and the popular music with which I grew up in the 70s.

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