Self-Care First…

If you’re anything like me, you work pretty hard towards taking care of others. Whether you’ve found your calling by pursuing a career that allows you to help others or you do volunteer work or perhaps simply take that extra amount of time in your daily routine to throw on a load of laundry, do extra dishes or extra cleaning around the house, helping and taking care of others is an important part of one’s life. If there’s anything that life has taught me, it’s that everybody needs somebody and helping to care for them takes many forms and is important.

That is to say, it’s ALMOST as important as taking care of yourself. Great strides have been made in the past couple of decades towards acknowledging one’s mental health as an integral part of a successful, healthy life. Of course, some have been wise enough to acknowledge that, long before it started being well-known. The important thing to remember is that you’re no good to anyone else unless you manage to take care of yourself first. I’ve previously written about the need to take time to do things for oneself, whether that means reading a book or taking a drive on your own.

Your mental health depends on it, which is why it’s so important. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced toxic relationships where I’ve been hindered or prevented from taking proper care of myself. Not only does this make life far harder than it needs to be but the toll it takes on a person is substantial. All that being said, there are three things you should never have to explain or justify. And those three things play an important role in your well-being. In fact, they represent some of the basic needs that all people have. Here they are:

The Need To Sleep

Sleep is an integral part of a person’s health. Without proper sleep, a person can expect difficulty concentrating, blood pressure issues, cardiac issues and a whole score of health-related issues that no one wants to deal with. When you feel tired or sleepy, there’s no reason you should have to explain the need to sleep. There’s nothing worse than being tired and wanting to lie down, only to have someone require an explanation or accuse you of being lazy.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, sleep counts as a physiological need, which is the bottom and first layer of needs. At its most basic, everyone sleeps. And the reality is that if one doesn’t sleep, one will eventually succumb and die. Work and familial obligations notwithstanding, you shouldn’t have to explain if you need to lie down and grab a quick snooze.

The Need To Eat

Another bottom level and basic physiological need, eating is subjective to the person. The rules of survival are pretty simple; if you’re hungry, you should eat. Now, bear in mind that hunger can be attributed to more than simply the need for food. Dehydration can cause feelings of hunger, so it’s important to maintain proper hydration levels by sipping water throughout the day. Emotional issues can also cause a person to compulsively eat, which isn’t directly associated to hunger but can cause a person to eat outside the regular boundaries of one’s three meals.

But if you find yourself hungry for the the old fashion reason, that being that you need food in your system, this isn’t something that you should need to explain or justify. In past relationships, I’ve actually had partners who have commented on my eating habits and have accused me of “eating too much” or gaining unnecessary weight through excessive eating. Although I’m not exactly the skinniest dude on the block, I also know that my weight is consistent with my age, size and activity level.

The Need To Recuperate From Illness

This one is near and dear to my heart, especially since I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes when I was 4 years old. Throughout my childhood and into my teens, I would often have friends and later girlfriends, comment on my mood, health and energy levels as Diabetes took its pound of flesh from me. Even into adulthood, I’ve had difficulties when trying to explain or justify needing some down time to myself when overcoming a cold, flu or something Diabetes-related.

I remember one time, I was dating a local woman in on of the towns I was posted in. We went out to an even this one evening when nausea and stomach pain seized me. I told her I would be going home to rest and I could tell she was clearly upset by my early departure. She even made a passive-aggressive comment to others about how we had to leave because I was “not feeling well.” It wasn’t until she came in to check on me the following day and saw the state I was in, did she realize that I was genuinely sick and wasn’t making excuses.

The experience left a sour taste in my mouth and helped me realize that one should never have to explain or justify needing time to medically recuperate. And taking care of one’s health is the second level on Maslow’s Hierarchy as part of one’s Safety Needs, one step above basic physiological needs. I don’t think I need to explain why it’s so important to maintain one’s health and well-being.

This post is effectively an opinion piece. Perhaps there are other needs you feel would be more important and that you dislike having to explain or justify. If so, feel free to share them in the comments section. At the end of the day, the lesson here is that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Otherwise, the whole house of cards will falter. And as I said earlier, you can’t help others or take care of them before first taking care of yourself. ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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