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Why Self Care is a Necessity for Human Functioning

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Self-care is not about self-indulgence, its about self-preservation.” – Audrey Lorde

As a woman, mother, and psychotherapist- I tend to run on the care-taking side. I grew up in an alcoholic household as the oldest of five desperately wanting to make sure everyone else was taken care of. For a long time, I ignored that I needed to charge my own batteries and often felt myself running on empty. Even though my graduate training expressed the importance of self-care in conjunction with my role as a mental health professional, it wasnt until I became a person in recovery, that I realized how vital self care is. Today, my self care is a non-negotiable. 

Self-care is a preventative medicinefor everyone but especially a necessity to help those avoid relapse, mental health issues, weight gain, and insomnia-to name a few. I suggest my patients create a prescription cardto carry with them of a list of self care ideas so they can commit to engaging and putting themselves first 3 to 5 times daily – even if its only for a few minutes at a time. If we dont make US a priority, we cant take care of anyone else effectively. Below are some examples I personally like to engage in.

  • going for a bike ride
  • meditating
  • journaling
  • reading
  • yoga
  • sitting and drinking coffee
  • lighting a candle and taking a couple of cleansing breathes.

Benefits of self care include increased positive thinking, less susceptibility to stress, and provoked feelings of calm and feeling taken care of. When we neglect our needs, we can become angry, resentful, and burned out resulting in conflict in relationships and low self-esteem.

Self care IS NOT selfish! I hear this way too often when I first introduce my patients to this concept. They fear their desires of wanting to do something for themselves will be judged by other people. I educate them by explaining a selfish person would view others as a means to get what they want-maybe when they were actively using drugs or alcohol, this was the case. Selfish people are often manipulative, narcissistic, and have a fear of loss of control. Choosing to get your nails done doesnt qualify as selfish but rather self care.

Its okay to have your needs met- some of us aren’t sure what our needs are or at the beginning stages of learning what they are. It is a conscious choice to put YOU first and make YOU a priority. Other people will greatly benefit when you are your best self- you will have more to share. Self care is learned, purposeful, and continuous. It is the cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.(wikepedia)

  • Kelley Kitley, LCSW
    Kelley Kitley, LCSW

    Owner Serendipitous Psychotherapy

    Kelley Kitley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice and owner of SERENDIPITOUS PSYCHOTHERAPY, LLC in downtown Chicago. She has been a featured Expert Contributor in The Wall Street Journal, Shape, SELF, Huffington Post, Women’s Health Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent Magazine, and dozens more. She is also an author for Fitness Magazine. Kelley is recognized as an International Women’s Mental Health Expert specializing in postpartum issues, anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationships. Her autobiography titled My Self is scheduled to be released in March 2017. Her website is https://www.kelleykitley.com/.

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