Picture yourself starting each day with a full pitcher of water. Your job is to disperse certain amounts of the nourishing liquid to yourself and to those around you. There’s only so much to go around and we all know how easy it is to pour too much in other people’s glasses, leaving yourself at risk of feeling parched and dehydrated. Consider how you choose to disperse the water each day and what factors influence how you make those choices as you read on.
We all struggle to figure out how to balance time between getting our own needs met and how much time and energy we can give away to other people. When we give too much to others we feel depleted, less refreshed and ready to start the next day. Not filling our own cup enough can leave us irritable, tired, and not performing our best. The long-term impact is that we become less productive at work and less present in our friendships, relationships, and family, which is only minimally beneficial to ourselves and others.
The first step to advocating for self-care is to know, to truly believe, that the time and energy you have to give out each day is valuable. It’s part of what makes up your internal self-worth and external value to others. Knowing and believing this is a necessary step in achieving a more balanced and nourished daily life. Once you are operating from this perspective, you can see that advocating for self-care not only has benefits for you individually, but also collectively.
Think for a moment about a cause you feel most passionate about and may have even advocated for change. You believe in and are willing to fight for this cause, so that those oppressed can heal, improve their well-being, to feel more whole and empowered. You want to grow resources for this group that expand their freedoms and allow them to be able to better meet whatever challenges they face in the future.
Advocating for our own self care allows us to take the same fierce action for ourselves that we do for others so we can live more meaningful lives. It ensures that we have enough water in our own cup in order to refresh and nourish those around us.
Actionable Steps to Advocate for Self-Care:
As stated above: Believe that your time is of value and is valuable to others. Set aside time each day to intentionally remind yourself of this belief in yourself. Use it to lift yourself up when you need it.
Set boundaries: let others know your limits upfront. You are only able to give so much of your time and energy before you are depleted.
Instead of feeling guilty for saying no, be proud for knowing your worth and what you need in the moment.
Know you are doing the best you can do for yourself and others each day and it is impossible to make everyone happy.
Advocating for time to nourish and replenish is not only beneficial to you, it’s important to everyone around you. You are worthy of giving yourself necessary care and love, and in turn, you will have more to give to others.
Mental Health Counselor Intern