The Unselfish Act of Self-Care

Would you rather get home at six o'clock short tempered or at 6:30 centered?

Posted Jun 29, 2011

Last week, I was quoted in an article in the Chicago Tribune titled "Attack of the mom guilt: How to stop feeling selfish and start exercising self-care." The journalist did an excellent job discussing the myth of "having it all." She also provided some excellent strategies for finding ways to fit in a bit of self-care while minimizing the all too common feelings of guilt.

I was quoted in the article as saying, "When you don't take time for yourself you have anxiety, depression, insomnia, a short temper. Would you rather get home at 6 short tempered or at 6:30 centered?" Given that this article was geared for mothers, the point I was making was akin to the old saying of "If Mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" A related proverb is that you have to fill your pitcher before you can fill everyone else's cup. Both reflect the notion that you cannot adequately give to others if you are not taking care of yourself.


The concept that a prerequisite of caring well for others is caring for oneself is the reason for this week's assignment in my Feminist Therapy class.


Fitting self-care into one's life is the focus of an entire chapter in my book, A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex. This chapter explains that self-care decreases stress and enhances physical and emotional health-which in turn, enhance sexual desire. This chapter also emphasizes the difference between self-care and selfishness, and provides a four step approach to carving out time in one's life for both self-care and connected time with one's partner. A potpourri of self-care activities is also listed, with exercise being the activity most strongly touted as a sex-drive enhancing self-care activity.  (This point was also the focus of a previous blog).

Certainly, I can't summarize this entire chapter in an approximately 550 word blog. So, instead, I will simply emphasize the difference between self-care and selfishness.