Being a nice girl, should I focus on taking care of others or myself?

Karen R Koenig
What a sticky wicket - but it’s at the core of effective self-care. It’s a lot easier to throw your energy into fixing another broken person than to mend yourself, but it’s a thankless, draining job that is essentially unproductive and self-destructive. I adore being a therapist, but I get paid for taking care of others! It’s obviously necessary to take good care of children and anyone with severe physical infirmities or without working mental faculties, but keep away from stubborn, manipulative know-it-alls who only want to hook you into their lives and have no intention of changing. These victims will suck the life out of you and you’ll end up recharging yourself with food. You are responsible only for yourself ! Isn’t that enough?

You have to love yourself first prior to loving others. A happier, healthier you can do a lot more for loved ones. If you are frustrated and dealing with personal issues, it's like starting an engine with half power. You can't be fully engaged to your present task of taking care of others.

Often taking care of an elderly parent or small children leaves us with no extra time or energy to take care of ourselves. My personal experiment was the feeling of being left out and not loved so I tried to comfort myself with so called “comfort foods”. Soon I realized this refugitive approach to food is hurting me and all the people I was trying to take care of. Then I realized it was time for change.

Start with adding one hour a day for yourself to do whatever you enjoy to do: a yoga class, an early morning walk, having coffee with a friend, meditation, even getting a pedicure or just slowing down to read your favorite book. You will be impressed how this one hour of me-time can help you become a nicer and more caring person.

One of my favorite notes from Dr. Oz is : “It's good to be selfish when it comes to taking time for exercise-especially, then you realize you'll be in better shape to take care of your kids or parents.”

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