For generations, self-sacrifice has been equated with virtue. In other words, “good” people are those who put others' needs at the forefront while neglecting their own.
As idyllic as it sounds, it simply isn’t practical. In other to lift people around you, you must first be able to lift yourself up. Compromising your personal well-being to focus on others simply reduces the impact you can have on people.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.” - Marianne Williamson
How do you start with self-care?
The first step to self-care is self-awareness. Most people carry a lot of “healthcare debt,” that is, physical and mental issues that have come as a result of years of neglect. Unfortunately, most people have no idea they even carry these burdens.
The first step to self-care is understanding what needs to be cared for. For example, most sedentary office workers have serious posture issues. Bad posture is an epidemic, and it is responsible for a host of different physiological issues. It’s correctable, but requires dedicated effort - and first, one has to be aware of their posture issues and the consequences that come from them.
There’s no magic pill to self awareness. It requires taking health checks with your doctor, seeing a therapist (EVERYONE should see a therapist once in a while) and starting to read and understand about your own physiology.
Oh - journaling helps!
Start setting goals
Once you’ve developed an awareness of your “self” and the areas that need some attention, it’s time to start setting some tangible goals. If fitness is a big goal, don’t set some ephemeral goal like “get fit”. You serve nobody by setting audacious, vague goals. Instead, break it down into small milestones and do what you can to reach those milestones. For example, set a goal to reach a 5-mile run in 3 months.
And what happens if you fail?
Be kind to yourself
The most important step to self-care is compassion. Don’t put yourself down for failing. Don’t be overly harsh in your self-assessment - that’ll just lead to body dysmorphia and other issues.
You’re the most important thing in the world - start treating yourself like it.