Self Care is Needed. Vitally.


Photo courtesy SoundGirls

TW: Mentions of suicide


Whether as parents, students, teachers, adults, or kids, we’ve all been stressed out. With a combination of Covid-19 and the increasing workload, we aren’t taking care of ourselves anymore. We live in a time where self-care has become selfish  and unproductive, but this mentality only leads people to  neglecting their needs and pushing themselves into a spiral of stress and poor health. But why is this? Why does this matter? And how do we stop it?


We think taking care of ourselves means that we are selfish. We prioritize work, school, and other people, and we forego our happiness because we feel guilty for prioritizing self-care. As Forbes of 2017 writes, “Stop thinking that you’re being selfish. We are not being selfish; we are being smart.” Think about it this way: on the airplane, the flight attendants always emphasize that the adult has to put on the oxygen mask before helping their child. It’s okay to help yourself before helping other people. It is time we stop telling others they are being selfish, because it doesn’t make you a bad person to love yourself.

In addition, adults, kids, and even babies are so busy all the time! The non-profit organization LetGrow of 2019 states, “We sign our kids up for activities we believe will make them better artists, spellers, soccer players, students, volleyball players, and debaters.” We sign ourselves up for absolutely everything, and then push our immune systems to the brink of death just to do everything. And in order  to get into a good college one day, kids can’t miss school. Adults can’t miss work. You can’t take a day off when you are coughing your lungs out or if you just mentally need it. You can’t even take 20 minutes of “me-time” anymore. We keep finding time for everything else, but ourselves.


Not taking care of ourselves directly hurts our bodies. The chronic exposure to stressors with little to no self-care negatively affects every system in your body. According to Psychology Today of 2017, this “can raise your blood pressure, suppress your immune system, and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.” When we want to escape the daily grind, we aren’t doing the things that make us healthier or happier in the long term. 

Secondly, the lack of self-care hurts our mental health. We end up not being able to concentrate, to speak properly, or to remember things well.  We become more susceptible to anxiety and depression.  And sometimes we begin to lash out at friends and family more.  Sometimes, these symptoms can lead to extreme situations. In one case, CBS reported a story on a young teenager, Alexandra Valoras. This 17-year-old high school junior, straight-A student, class officer and robotics whiz made her bed, tidied her room, and then walked to a highway overpass in Grafton, Massachusetts… and jumped. Her parents found two journals in their daughter’s belongings. There were phrases such as “I’m not good enough” and “I’m just tired.” PBS of 2019, reports that the rate of young people dying of suicide has reached its highest level in nearly two decades. Schools tell us all to be better. Parents tell us all to be the best. We tell each other that we’ll never be good enough. When will someone finally tell us and actually mean that taking care of ourselves is more important than winning that trophy or getting into that college? Clearly, it isn’t happening soon enough. 


Take little steps in taking care of our emotions and our bodies. According to Therapy Inc of 2017, “People who encourage and nurture you are needed. These are people you can always turn to if needed.” You need someone to lean on. Everyone faces their downs. Everyone needs support. It may be hard and make us feel vulnerable but in the long term, it will pay off. So, ask for help. That’s how you keep yourself healthy and moving forward.

Second, you have to remember that you are allowed to love yourself. As Sarah Plakke says in the 2017 thought catalog, “Remember your goals and dreams. Live your life. You can never be someone else. You can only become a better version of yourself.” So here is a plan. Write down what is making you feel stressed. Start removing stressors and rearrange your schedule. Write yourself a post it on a mirror that says, “you got this!” Sometimes simple statements like these help me get through a rough week, too. 


As Eleanor Brown said “Rest and self care are so important. You cannot help others from an empty vessel.” We are setting ourselves on figurative fire everyday just to meet everyone’s expectations. It’s time for us to remember that we shouldn’t be having to pull all nighters everyday. Instead we should learn to take care of ourselves too.