Someone You Love Needs You to Care for Yourself
by Ami Kunimura, MA, MT-BC • February 2020
Take a deep breath in . . . and exhale . . .
Right now, give this some thought –
The people you care about need you to care for yourself.
At this moment, someone you love needs you to take care for yourself. Who comes to mind? Be gentle with yourself here. Let this be an opportunity for compassion rather guilt.
Sometimes the term “self-care” can be misleading because it seems to be referring to one person – you. Self-care is about you, but self-care isn’t just about you. Your existence impacts others, and we exist in relation to each other.
For example, think about how you describe yourself and your life. We often describe who we are with our roles and relationships. When I describe who I am I often use words like wife, daughter, sister, friend, therapist, teacher, business owner, musician, writer, healer. . .
All of these roles are relational. My self-care impacts everyone else involved in these different roles and relationships, and their self-care impacts me. What are your most important roles? How can caring for yourself help you better function in your roles?
There’s research that has explored this:
This 2016 study suggests that teachers’ stress levels have an impact on the stress levels of their students.
A 2019 study found that when a dog owner’s cortisol levels increased, their dog’s cortisol level increased too. The research suggested that dogs mirror the stress level of their owners.
Our stress impacts the lives around us. So take a deep breath, and practice some self-soothing and self-kindness today when you need to. I want to emphasize again here that this is not to make you feel guilty or bad, and I especially don’t want to promote an unrealistic expectation of being completely stress-free so that people or animals around you can be stress-free. Everyone experiences stress, and not all stress is harmful. We’re not trying to completely avoid stress, but we are trying to find ways to manage stress, so that stress doesn’t manage you and those you care about.
So again – someone you love needs you to take care of yourself. Who comes to mind? Let this be a motivation for self-care, especially if you’re the kind of big-hearted person who’s more likely to do something nice for someone else or if you find it easier to give to others than yourself.
Today, remember that giving yourself compassion does not mean you are taking away from anyone else. You can increase your capacity to give to your loved ones and community if you can turn some of your compassion inward. Compassion is not a limited resource and can be continually regenerated by letting it into your own heart.
Try this by:
– Saying something nice about yourself
– Saying something encouraging to yourself
– Being more patient with yourself
– Being accepting of ourself when you make a mistake
– Giving yourself permission to need support
Compassion can be amplified when it’s in flow.
Compassion can be limited when it’s just going one way.
Compassion begets compassion.
Love begets love.
Your self-care contributes to the love, compassion, goodness, and kindness in this world. Being kind to yourself can be a way of being kind to others. See how that might play out for your today, even in small ways.
Ami Kunimura, MA, MT-BC is the founder of the Self-Care Institute and the creator and facilitator of Resilience Over Burnout: A Self-Care Program, an in-depth online program that guides professionals out of burnout and stress cycles through research-based self-care practices. Ami has presented on self-care and professional burnout at international events and conferences. Ami (pronounced ah-me) was born in Hawaii and currently lives in Southern California.
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