Self-care: Far from selfish
"Self-care is about replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s."
by Raven Ballard, PLPC, MOLAP clinician and well-being coordinator
In the culture of working as a lawyer, it’s historically been rewarded to put yourself last and to put your work first. Some lawyers will even wear their long hours and lack of work-life balance as a badge of honor. In my clinical experience working with lawyers, I sometimes hear: “I don’t have time for self-care” or “I don’t know how self-care is supposed to fit into my already stretched schedule.” But other times, it’s not as overt as those statements. Most times, I hear lawyers remark that they are scared that if they focus on themselves, they’ll let others down -- whether that’s their law partner, their clients, or their loved ones. In our hustle and bustle lifestyles, it can feel selfish to turn our focus inward and do something for ourselves. That leads to the question: Is self-care selfish?
According to the Global Self-Care Federation, self-care is the practice of an individual looking after their own health using the knowledge, resources, and information available to them. You see, self-care is about more than simply taking a bubble bath every now and then (though that’s fine, too). It is about making your health a priority, and you have to factor in all the different realms of health: your physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. An article written by Stephanie Grunewald, PhD, outlines that self-care is done with the intention of taking care of oneself, not to take away from others. She writes, “Being selfish means there’s a desire to take from others, often to their detriment. However, self-care is about replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s”. So no, self-care isn’t selfish, and it could be argued that not taking care of yourself may be more harmful, not only to yourself but also for loved ones and clients who depend on you to be healthy. It’s an age-old saying but it’s worth saying time and time again: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Caring for yourself, in all domains of your life to function at your best, isn’t selfish.
If you would like to discuss how to implement self-care into your life and routine, the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here to help! Please consult the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-688-7859 for free, confidential counseling.
Global Self-Care Federation. (2023). What is self-care? Retrieved from: https://www.selfcarefederation.org/what-is-self-care
Grunewald, S. (2023). Is self-care selfish? Retrieved from: https://rcchicago.org/self-care/#:~:text=2)%20Self%2Dcare%20is%20done,resources%20without%20depleting%20someone%20else's.