Some people may think that emotional self-care sounds like a selfish action, to concentrate on yourself.
If you do think this, you wouldn’t be alone – many under-estimate the importance of self-care.
Why is Emotional Self-Care Important?
In such a fast paced society, with many things vying for our time and energy, we often don’t take the time out of our day, week, month or year to care for ourselves. Are you feeling drained? Wrung out? Exhausted?
My next question is, are you taking good care of yourself emotionally/psychologically, socially, physically and spiritually?
Do you value yourself?
When I am counselling a client, I often find it helpful to do a self-care assessment to allow them to consider the areas of their life that may need some adjustment in self-care.
We could look at what might be draining your emotional tank, and assess how low the level has become. A person can only run on empty for a limited amount of time before negative consequences arise – psychologically, socially, physically or spiritually. When your “fuel” level is low, it becomes difficult to deal with extra obstacles that might come your way – it is only when your emotional tank is full that you have the resources to care for others. You cannot fully extend yourself unless you operate out of fullness, and you will never get full unless you take good care of yourself.
Therefore we would concentrate on how to fill your emotional tank. When we take care of our whole selves – spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically, creating a life in balance – we set ourselves up for healthy relationships.
Emotional self-care (filling your tank) is not selfish, it is required if we are to live and be strong, healthy and confident men and women. Remember to lay aside some of those expectations we are so quick to place on ourselves and others, and give yourself a break.
3 Components of Emotional Self-Care
Gary Smalley suggests three components to good self-care, which he believes vastly increase your chances of strengthening and deepening the relationships that mean the most to you.
- Receiving – To stay healthy you need to receive from others. This may be through help and assistance provided by others.
- Attending – Good self-care means that you must learn to attend to your own legitimate needs. That means that you have to understand what your emotions, mind and your body are telling you about your circumstances. These sources are information that can guide and direct your self-care process; but you need to pay balanced attention to all of them.
- Giving – This is what helps you to stop emotional self-care from degenerating into selfishness. Why? Because you realise that you take care of yourself, so that you have something to give to others.
Receiving, attending and giving – if any of these are missing you will develop a large hole in your self-care.
Author: Fiona Muller, B Soc Sc, Major in Counselling; Member of PACFA and CCAA.
Fiona is a registered counsellor working with both individuals and couples. Having previously worked with women’s groups, aged care, child care, pre-marriage counselling and community outreach programs, and married for nearly 30 years with two young adult children, Fiona’s experiences have given her a greater understanding and empathy of the many challenges and losses that life brings.
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- Smalley, G. , Smalley, M. , & Paul, R. S. (2007). The DNA of Relationships: Discover how you are designed for satisfying relationships. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.