Self-Care is Not Selfish

Self-Care is not Selfish

Why you can’t give from an empty cup, and how self-care is something you do for others too!

 

At this time of year it’s so normal to feel overwhelmed. (I’m writing this a few weeks before Christmas). There’s presents to buy, work deadlines to finish, parties and other social events to go to…

Even if we really enjoy all these things (maybe not work deadlines), it is still over-stimulating for our brain. If we’re not careful we will feel depleted and emotionally empty come the long-awaited Christmas day!

What I will try to convince you of in this mini blog is this: taking a few quiet and reflective moments to yourself (even in place of doing stuff for others sometimes), will help you be a nicer, more patient and more pleasant person to those around you!

Read on to hear about my personal reflections as well as a little bit of science on yoga and mental well-being.

 

For me personally…

I am very aware when my cup is empty. It happens when I don’t dedicate any time to myself to go for a run, do my yoga practice, or read quietly now and then. (Reading quietly is still on my ‘wish to do list’, but I’ll get there one day!)

When this happens I get irritable, snappy and generally less content in every moment. This was the feeling I had when I had post-natal depression, due to not have ANY time to look after myself. I instantly felt happier when my 7 month old baby leaned to nap in a cot, and have me back 1.5 hours a day!

For me, spending 30-60 minutes a day on moving my body in a mindful way (mostly yoga) makes me noticeably calmer, kinder and more giving to others.

So…. Am I doing yoga for me? Or for others? …..hmmm, interesting question…

 

Some Science on Yoga & Well-being

But this is not just about my personal experience. There’s plenty of scientific evidence showing that a yoga practice increases a range of well-being related outcomes.

For example, a systematic review of 14 studies on yoga and a positive mental health outcomes found that the majority of studies showed a beneficial effect of yoga (Domigues et al., 2018).

In this review, studies comparing a yoga group with a control group found the following health outcomes for the participants doing yoga:

  • Mindfulness: Four studies found higher levels of mindfulness in nurses, nursing students, young adults with rheumatoid arthritis and health care providers.
  • Positive Emotions: Two studies found higher positive emotions (positive affect) in low-active menopausal women and in sedentary adults with arthritis.
  • Emotional Resilience: One study found a significant increase in resilience in adults with anxiety or depression.
  • Mental Well-being: Two studies found increased mental well-being in physically-inactive older adults and in adults with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Life Satisfaction: Two studies observed improvements in life satisfaction in menopausal women and nursing students.
  • Self-Compassion: Two studies observed significant increases in self-compassion in nursing students health care providers.
  • Self-Esteem: One study found significant increases in self-esteem in sedentary adults.
  • Coping and Relaxation Skills: One study found significant increases in coping and relaxation skills in health care providers.
  • Empathy: One study found significant improvements in empathy levels were found in nursing students.

 

A happier you = a nicer you?

So, after reading the long list above, do you see how spending a little time on your OWN health and wellbeing could actually benefit everyone around you, too?

Being more mindful will help you be PRESENT with your friends, partner or children.

Obviously, having higher positive emotions, mental wellbeing, emotional resilience, coping skills, and empathy are going to help you have fun and fulfilling times with your friends and family.

And then self-esteem, self-compassion and life satisfaction will make YOU feel more worthy, loved and happy!

 

So, is self-care selfish?

If you were to spend 30-60 minutes on a yoga practice on a Saturday (while your partner looked after the kids), what would you feel? Would you feel guilt? Would you feel selfish?

Perhaps you do feel this way. Many of us do!

But have a look at these two scenarios, and think about what would be the best thing for everyone:

  • Having you 100% of the time, not completely present, with lower mental wellbeing, empathy, emotional resilience, life satisfaction and coping skills. Or…
  • Having you 95% of the time when you’re happy, present, with high positive emotions and more empathy and emotional resilience?

Food for thought…

 

The take-away message

I have observed that women with families, especially, find it difficult to choose the option of doing something for their own health and wellbeing. There’s always more washing, tidying and sorting to do, and the kids just NEED you all the time.

(Sorry guys and anyone without children, but this message is especially for the mamas!)

Listen up, lovely women: self-care is NOT selfish.

If necessary, ASK for more help so you can look after yourself. So that you can re-fill your empty cup. With a full cup you’ll be able to give even more love, care and attention to everyone around you.

Happy mama = happy everybody!

Need a little help?

If you need a little help getting started with 15-20 minutes of mindful yoga at home have a little look at my classes… 😉

Learn more about BendyLife yoga...

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in the comments below!

Jolanthe x


Reference

Domingues, R. B. (2018). Modern postural yoga as a mental health promoting tool: A systematic review. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 31, 248-255.

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Love, Jolanthe x