Time to Be Selfish

Time to Be Selfish

People tend to focus and stress about the little problems going on in their life rather than appreciating life as it is. Self-care is a good way to take a moment from your day to step back, relax, and truly see how amazing life is. However, methods of self-care are different for everyone based on their needs.

Although self-care may be difficult to acknowledge at times, it is one of the most important things that we need to consider every day. Self-care is defined as the practice of protecting one’s personal well-being in times of stress.

 Whether it be reading a book or exercise, one must be conscious of their decisions each day that can affect the care of one’s body. 

The first step to figuring out which method of care works best for you is to find out what needs to improve in your daily schedule and/or routine. Learning your limits is one of the most important things in self-care. How far can I push myself? What are the signs I need to take a break? How much stress is too much? These are good questions to ask when first discovering your preferred method of care. A common misconception of self-care is that by engaging in it, you are being selfish. This is not the case. By doing something small for yourself every day, it will improve your mental health and overall well being. Stress can be both good and bad. 

According to Psychology Today, “Stress keeps us accountable for our actions. It motivates us and inspires us to be better citizens.” However, stress is also “extremely taxing on the brain and the body, possibly leading to depression and other mental health consequences, as well as physical health issues.” 

A few ways to recognize signs of self-neglect in yourself and peers include “personal poor hygiene, visible weight loss, increased isolation, and significant behavior changes”. 

A recent survey of 130 high school students revealed that many students did not do anything to maintain self-care. This can be very dangerous for teenagers especially. Lack of mental self-care possibly leads to grave consequences such as depression or suicidal thoughts. From these stages, it is very hard to escape. 

“Prolonged stress is dangerous to our health, but small increments of stress are important for growth,” said Cathy Cota, the MSS school nurse. She believes that self-care is necessary so that her students make sure that they do not encounter long times of stress, but learn to regulate it.

Neglecting your physical self is just as dangerous. It can result in malnutrition or substance abuse which can often lead to other health issues and illnesses. A subsequent problem lies in the fact that many students do not realize the detrimental effects of self-neglect on overall health.

On the other hand, a handful of students responded to the survey with ways they already practice self-care daily or weekly—from how they handle being a high school student to the stress of balancing homework, sports, and other extracurriculars. 

“Every night when I get home from gymnastics, I take a 1-hour nap before I start my homework to let my mind and body reset,” said Madeline Macias ‘22.

“I never go out with friends on Sunday nights. I use it as “me” time to just relax,” said another sophomore, Ava Delarosa. Some long term activities include maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, staying organized,  and hydrating are crucial things to keep your body happy. 

Short term daily ideas are: meditation, taking a bath, going for a walk, watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music, baking, or writing down three sentences of gratitude. 

Opening up to people you trust about stress allows you to express emotions and learn to navigate through daily challenges. According to The Mayo Clinic: “Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too.”

“Me” time comes in many forms. Finding methods that work best for you is the start to developing self-care. From there, you can build a routine where you are reminded to listen to your needs. After all, helping yourself is the first step to helping others.