Why Self-Care is in Everyone’s Best Interest

April 16, 2023

Self-care is self-preservation. Would you drive a car all day if it needed an oil change or battery replacement and was critically low on gas? Our minds are like the engines of our bodies, the cars. Obviously, a car can’t run without a working engine—so why are you trying to force yourself to accomplish things when you don’t have all the functioning parts?

Maybe finding all the pieces is difficult for you, or you struggle with getting them to work together. Maybe you tend to forget your seatbelt before leaving the house and end up crashing, damaging what had previously been a decently-functioning system. Whatever the problem, mental illness is notoriously good at making driving the car much harder than it is for others, and that’s where self-care comes in. 

For some, the practice of actively tending to one’s mind, body, and spirit is little more than a way to pass the time. For those with mental illness, though, it is a necessity, a crucial activity that keeps us running and gives us enough energy, encouragement, and TLC to make it through the day. 

Self-care that works is different for everyone; it might look like doing activities you enjoy or caring for the body, or it might look like self-soothing and practicing positive self-talk. One of the important things to remember when taking care of yourself is not to judge what works for you. If it helps and isn’t harmful, whatever you’re doing isn’t silly—even if it might sometimes feel like it.

Another part of self-care that we often don’t recognize is its value as a tool to keep us “in tune” with family and friends. When we’re at our best, it’s easier to carry a conversation, hang out with people, be productive, and have fun, and it’s also easier for others to be around us. So, if you’ve ever noticed your energy bringing the mood in the room down, it might be time to examine the situation and ask, What can I do to help myself today? or What have I been doing that might be making me feel worse?

Once we’ve taken care of ourselves, it is a thousand times easier to take care of others. Self-care is the gas that gets you from place to place, and you can’t run efficiently without it. That’s why we practice self-care, and why it isn’t selfish to do so, but helpful to ourselves AND others—whether they’re family, friends, teachers, pets, or even strangers on the street who catch you smiling. In putting your own needs first, you’ll have the energy to help others and the passion to encourage them to do the same. 

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