Watching a mother take care of her child, she is nurturing and selfless and would go to any lengths to protect her offspring. This nurturing instinct seems to extend outside of the family unit, as you can observe so many women within the community selflessly teaching, providing, and caring for others. If women are so good at caregiving, why is it that so many women struggle with self-care?
Caretaking as Women’s Strength
Blame biology, but as the gender capable of birthing, women are generally wired to be nurturers and caregivers. Women are typically more emotional and intuitive, which helps them have more empathy and understanding toward others. Even as early as toddlers, females show compassion and empathy toward toys, pets, and other people. These qualities make caregiving a strength for many women.
From young mothers to teachers to grandmothers to women caring for their elderly family members or others in the community, there are strong women everywhere nurturing people throughout their lives. They are selfless and compassionate, giving of themselves seemingly infinitely.
When Caregiving Becomes a Woman’s Weakness
Caregiving can also be a weakness for a woman. Often, she will be so busy caring for others that she fails to care for herself. This could be out of necessity, such as a mother with a newborn that demands so much of her time, energy, and resources. The working mother works and cares for the household and children, essentially working two or more full-time jobs.
Perhaps it is the woman who is caring for her elderly family members, who are working or tending to her children and caring for the needs of her elderly family members, sometimes full-time. Women often find themselves in situations where their responsibilities as caregivers leave them little to no time for themselves. This becomes a weakness, a struggle for them to find time for self-care.
Is Self-Esteem Behind a Lack of Self-Care?
There is another theory about why women do not make time for their self-care. This theory is that they lack the self-esteem to make enough time to care for themselves. They put everyone else’s needs before them because they do not believe that they are worthy of the time and energy or that others are more deserving somehow. This is especially true of women in addiction.
Perhaps the reason that women do not make time for self-care is a little of both – part necessity and part low self-esteem. Either way, it is poor logic. Without making time for themselves, they burn themselves out and make themselves less effective as caregivers. While they may tell themselves that they are being selfless by giving all of their time and energy to others, a lack of self-care is actually somewhat selfish, as it is a choice that you make on your own that impacts everyone else around you.
What Does Self-Care Involve and Is It Important?
Self-care is making time each day, even just 20 minutes per day, to do something that fuels you, that makes you feel alive. Self-care is not about spending a lot of money or making elaborate plans, and it is simply about making time for yourself to do something that you love. You should do self-care just for yourself, nurturing your passions and caring for your soul.
The importance of self-care could never be measured, especially for a caregiver woman. Giving of yourself around the clock can easily leave you empty and eventually unable to give any more care. When you take time to care for yourself, you are refueling your own fire, giving to yourself so that you can then, in turn, give to others. Self-care is like the match that lights the candle. If there is no match, the candle will burn out and have no more flame. Daily self-care is like re-lighting your candle each day.
Finding Your Own Optimal Self-Care
Self-care is personal; no one else can tell you what you should do because it needs to come from within. Some ideas to help you find your own optimal self-care could be:
- Take a walk on the beach, collect shells, or build a sandcastle
- Play an instrument, dance, or listen to new music
- Try new food, a new language, or a new book
- Learn a martial art, a new type of yoga, or meditate outside
- Spend time with an animal, garden, or watch the stars
- Feel the grass between your toes, the wind rushing past your face, or hear the birds singing
- Learn to paint, embroider, or write calligraphy
Whatever you choose to do as self-care can be different every day. The most important part of the struggle is making the time for yourself. Finding something that gives you joy will make the time that much more powerful for you.
Women who are nurturers and caregivers struggle to make time for themselves for self-care. Whether out of necessity or because of poor self-esteem, you will be a more effective caregiver when you practice self-care. Finding your own optimal self-care will demonstrate your worth. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women teaches women the value of self-care and improving self-esteem. Our Costa Mesa, California, residential treatment center offers detox and residential treatment for women with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We utilize the four main principles of Ho Tai – Prosperity, Wealth, Joy, and Abundance, as seen through the lens of recovery, to show you that you are worthy and teach you how to receive the gifts of healing. You are worth making time daily for self-care. You are enough. Contact us at (714) 581-3974 today to begin your healing journey.