Self-Care Myths and Must-Do’s

Self-Care Myths and Must-Do’s

We spend our lives taking care of others – partner, children, parents, and grandchildren (not to mention friends and neighbours). But when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often lack enthusiasm. While, as a younger person, we may have been able to ‘get away’ with this, we will have difficulty escaping the results of self-neglect as we grow older. In fact, if you are in your retirement years, or soon about to enter them, you will no doubt have noticed your contemporaries now fall into one of two camps: there are those who ‘let themselves go’ and those who ‘pick themselves up’ (there are also those who have practised life-long self-care, and continue to do so, but they are few and far between).

Those who ‘let-themselves-go’ tend to ‘hit the couch,’ have regular meet-ups with cake at the cafe, drive short distances instead of walking, and reach for convenience food and take-aways at the drop of a hat (after all, they tell themselves, now they’re retired, they ‘deserve it’). But nothing could be further from the truth. Because no one ‘deserves’ to slip into poor health, which is almost certainly what will happen if self-care isn’t given the priority it deserves.

So, what prevents us adopting a lifestyle that will so clearly benefit us? As it turns out, it’s nothing more than a load of old myths – myths that, if believed, soon become excuses!

Myth number one is, self-care is indulgent (selfish, even). Yet this simply can’t be true because it’s through caring for our own physical and mental health we become strong enough to support others. If we neglect self-care, resilience slips away, and we actually find ourselves too drained to be of any help to anyone, even our partner.

Myth number two, is self-care is too costly to incorporate into our daily routine. That’s certainly true if you view self-care as lounging about at the spa, joining umpteen ‘wellness’ classes, purchasing a raft of skin care products, and checking in with an online guru on a daily basis. However, physical and mental health is all about simple, daily routines you can carry out in your own home. Sure, you can add some professional guidance or classes into the mix, but you don’t have to.

If the concept of any sort of routine sounds too time consuming, then you’ve just talked yourself into believing myth number three! Self-care doesn’t take up hours of each day, however it’s also not going to happen of its own accord. It does require you to put in some effort (not a lot, but some, and regularly).

Myth number 4 is a biggie – it’s ‘self-care is only for women.’ Men who are now in their senior years, have lived in a world where their role was largely to be ‘bring home the bacon,’ and not to count the personal cost. Earning a living came first, and if there were a couple of hours left in the day, it might be possible to slip in a round of tennis or a rugby practise (moreover, if there was any ‘care’ going on, it was probably delivered via a partner.) No wonder taking care of physical and mental health barely enters men’s minds as they age. Yet staying well is as important for males and females; it’s just, in many cases, men need to make a more conscious decision to make it happen.

Whether you want to stick with the myths, and allow them to become your reason for not taking care of yourself as you age, is your choice. After giving a life-time of service to others, you deserve a short time each day to take care of yourself. If you do, look out for our follow-up article on self-care, where we give some simple tips on how not to ‘let yourself go.’