It is not unusual to hear about individuals who over the years never took care of their own spiritual/emotional/physical needs because they were busy taking care of others. We can sometimes get so wrapped up in serving others that we forget to focus on ourselves. Others see the focus on self as somehow being vain, egotistical, or simply selfish.
If you have ever flown on a plane you know that one of the safety announcements made before take-off is about what to do in the unlikely event of a cabin de-pressurization. “Masks will fall from the compartment above your head; place the mask over you nose and mouth and breathe normally. The bag may not inflate even though oxygen is flowing. If you are traveling with someone who needs assistance, place your mask on first before helping others.” This goes against the idea of helping others first, but it makes perfect sense; if you lose consciousness due to lack of oxygen, you are of no help to anyone else. We must take care of ourselves first before we can help others.
Self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Self-care means different things to different people. For some, it means a luxurious day at a spa. For others it is a hot cup of tea in the afternoon. Some think of self-care as taking adult education classes, going to the gym, reading a good book, or listening to their favorite music. Whatever works is fine, but it cannot be an “optional.”
My wife and I recently returned from a week-long trip; it was our first vacation since the start of the pandemic. We drove and even took the dog with us. We went to the next state over and had a great time. It was certainly a form of self-care; we both needed to get away and recharge. Not everyone has the opportunity for a week off or has the means to spend lavishly on themselves. Even so, there are ways that we can care for ourselves that still make a difference: eating right, exercising, and getting proper rest. (Do I sound like a broken record?)
It is not selfish to engage in self-care. Self-care is necessary first in order to be able to care for others later.