No more self-less self-care.

Person covers face with hands. Frantic thin black squiggles indicate stress.

-by Dr. Tim Grivois, Executive Director

On 18 November 2022, 3:00-4:30 pm (Arizona Time), I’ll lead a session of one of our most popular online workshops: Self-care for Caring Professionals. As always, we’ll explore self-care strategies through the Eight Dimensions of Wellness. However, what’s new in this workshop is how we’ll confront what I’m calling “Self-less self-care.”

“Self-less self-care” is dangerous.

“Self-less self-care” is dangerous. Self-care advocates often use the airplane oxygen mask metaphor, saying, “You need to put on your mask before helping others.” It’s time to stop using this metaphor. Persuading people to care for themselves so they can put more effort into others encourages caring professionals to put obstacles between themselves and their valid (and often pressing) needs.

We need air to live. We don’t need to explain why or ask permission to breathe. Yet, many times, leaders of caring organizations will contact me for self-care workshops hoping that I’ll help teachers, healthcare providers, or nonprofit staff be happier so that work can demand more and more. We can’t root self-care in selfishness because self-care is not selfish.

Self-care is not selfish.

The remedy for “self-less self-care” is not selfishness. Selfish people meet their needs without considering how their actions affect others. Self-caring people, however, understand that empathy happens from the inside out. 

As caring professionals, we constantly confront circumstances where helping others risks harming ourselves. Yet, too often, we create short-term workarounds to manage prolonged stress. ‘Self-less self-care’ may feel effective for a short time. However, continuing to practice ‘self-less self-care’ harms us long-term and models self-destructive behaviors we want our students, families, and clients to avoid.

Join us!

All participants in Self-care for Caring Professionals receive the Eight Dimensions of Wellness Deck. We use the deck to consider eight opportunities to be happy and healthy, and also explore how attending to our Eight Dimensions of Wellness supports healthy boundaries. The workshop is $37 per person. If you’re registering on your own and want a scholarship, email me and let me know. 

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