Self-care is important: 5 common misconceptions smart women need to know

High acheiving women underestimate how important self-care is–most likely because it’s misunderstood.

self-care is important: woman with hands on heart
Photo by Fa Barboza

Five misconceptions smart women have about self-care

Here are some common misconceptions I witness all the time.

1. Self-care is a reward

Self-care isn’t just for special occasions like your birthday or Mother’s Day. It isn’t a treat you get when you’ve done something good or after a hard day of work, like a manicure or a day at the spa.

It’s not optional but something to do every day, like making sure you eat to nourish yourself and get enough sleep.

2. Self-care is physical

Having said that, self-care is just about nutrition and sleep. Making sure that your body is healthy is taking care of yourself. But, the psychological and spiritual aspects are just as important.

For example, these can include interrupting self-talk that is too unfair or too negative or not being so hard on yourself when you make a mistake. It could be setting important boundaries and being able to say “no.”

3. Self-care is not productive

Busy women will often think that taking care of themselves is not a good use of their valuable time.

Yet, research has shown that being self-compassionate is related to a too.

4. Self-care takes too much time

Self-care is important enough to be aware of all of the time, but that doesn’t mean you need to go to a 90-minute yoga class every day. Small actions can have a big impact. My optometrist for example reminds me of the 20-20-20 rule, to just spend 20 seconds looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes of looking at your computer. (I admit I forget to do this all the time.)

5. Self-care is selfish

Caring women will often prefer to put the needs of their loved ones first and themselves last. Some even feel guilty when they take time to take care of themselves.

Yet, we all know that when we’re depleted, it’s hard to be compassionate or empathetic to others. (We all know what they say about oxygen masks, right?)

A different definition

To rethink self-care, I use a definition that is more useful than the one in the dictionary or set by researchers.

Self-care is making the choice to value your well-being.

I also see it as an act of self-compassion. Self-compassion is recognizing your human frailty and being kind to yourself.

When we view self-care as such a choice, we can see the myriad of opportunities, not just the trade-offs. We can figure out how to enact those options so that it feels right for us.

Moreover, we keep it top of mind, understanding it is something we need to do all the time and not feel guilty about it.

Because, when we are at our best, we have the energy to lift up those around us, too.

How will you choose to care for yourself right now?