This article originally appeared here on May 18, 2017
I’ve spent 10 long years telling myself I cannot afford to slow down. To have even 10 minutes of me time, I have to hustle and work and hustle some more.
Do that for too long and you will find yourself incredibly exhausted. It’s time for things to change.
Self-care can be as simple as spending a few minutes each day doing nothing. No thinking, no social media, nothing. Just you, sitting and breathing, being in touch with your body and your inner self. It starts from there.
Here are eight reasons you shouldn’t feel selfish for taking care of yourself.
1. It molds authenticity.
The moment you decide to give yourself a few minutes of the day, you’re also allowing yourself to be more authentic. It’s a way to get to know yourself better. If you think you already do, think again. There is so much more in us than what we see on the surface.
Try it for a month. Don’t wait for the weekends; put in a little extra effort and commit to doing something every day for yourself. It won’t take long before you see some parts of yourself you never thought existed. It allows you to determine which parts are authentically yours and which aren’t—we all have aspects in us that are copied from someone else: a celebrity idol, someone from the internet or a reality TV show, a friend we look up to.
2. It’s the only way we can take care of others.
Keep in mind that you can only help others if you’re helping yourself first, physically, mentally and spiritually. As much as we want to think desire and passion are enough, they’re not. You need a healthy body and an open mind to function, which aren’t present if you’re filled with self-doubt. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Acknowledge that the road to self-care is a winding one. But it’s also necessary. Pretending to be strong 24/7 doesn’t last long. That strength must come from within.
3. It helps you move from existing to living.
Existing is simply being on this tiny blue dot called Earth. Living is experiencing everything this tiny blue dot has to offer. Which are you doing? Many people are OK with just existing. They wake up, go to work, go home, eat dinner and sleep. Tomorrow they’ll do it all over again.
Are you going to wait for your retirement before you decide to enjoy life? Before you decide to allot time for yourself? Although we have responsibilities—paying bills, raising children, etc.—we’re also responsible for taking care of ourselves.
4. It helps you find your purpose.
What is your purpose? You’ve probably asked that question countless times. You might have days, weeks or months where you feel down, unsatisfied, feeling like there should be something more. It’s your body signaling you to take a leap into the unknown, because your purpose is out there, waiting.
How do you know when you find it? You just do. Self-care means trusting yourself. It means being willing to go out in the wild or dig deep. It might be scary, but there’s really no other way to figure out what you’re supposed to do in this world. Practicing self-care and building trust between you and your inner self will help you find purpose in life.
5. Self-care is as empowering as it can be.
It takes a lot of courage to actually show up to me time every day. Clearly, it’s easier to fall into the traps of emails and notifications. But when you start getting used to setting those things aside and to just focus on you, it becomes easier to connect with your inner self.
Listen to your guts… because we all know what happens when one knows how to listen to his guts—he does wonders. And you will, too. Stop chasing work-life balance and start empowering yourself to achieve your greatest desires.
6. Motivation roots from it.
How does one stay motivated? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that. No one can stay motivated forever, and we all have different needs and desires. But some people know how to bounce back from a slump, and others struggle to get unstuck.
The key is self-care. Accepting that you’ll never be perfect makes a huge difference. If you acknowledge that you’re not perfect, you’re allowing mistakes to be your friend. You become motivated to try again or to experience something new because you’re not pressuring yourself. You’re not expecting perfection.
7. It’s the best road to a physically healthier you.
Self-care is not just about your guts, nerves and inner self. It’s also about your physical self, meaning healthy diet, exercise and sleep.
One misconception about achieving good physical health is that it’s hard. Well, it can be. But not always. You eat, sleep, drink and walk around. Those are enough. You just have to tweak it a little, one day at a time. Start by adding one new serving of fruit every day. Then add a 15-minute brisk walk. These might seem small, but they’re enough to get you going.
8. It is the perfect reminder that you are worthy.
Acknowledging that you are allowed to be sad, to be happy, to be uncomfortable, can change your outlook on life. The world isn’t going to stop if you get fired. But it’s also not going to laugh at you for crying about it.
Many people don’t think validation matters much. Being acquainted with your emotions and giving them space in this world is as important as earning a big paycheck and having good credit. By taking care of yourself, you’re building a safer space for these emotions. You’re reminding yourself that you are worthy of respect, and most certainly, you (including your strength and weaknesses) are worthy of a spot in this world.