I'm writing this post for women because I am one, and I tend to notice the ways women often struggle when it comes to self-care. (Though I see it as a deep challenge for men as well.)
All my life I've watched women have trouble prioritizing the importance of their own self-care. Even for those of us who do a pretty good job of it, it's not unusual to bump up against occasional guilt at putting our own needs first.
The crux of the problem, I think, is related to our cultural tendency towards scarcity thinking (thank you, Brene Brown). How often do you see discussions of self-care viewed through a lens of selfishness versus selflessness? As if there is a finite amount of love, and you either give it away or you use it all up for yourself. And if you take it for yourself, there's less for others! (You selfish thief!)
Kind of odd, if you think about it. But I remember feeling that way in the past: if you're taking what you need, what about me? When you take for you, are you taking something away from me?
It seems funny now, but also not. It's how I was raised. And how our culture still subtly, and not so subtly, operates. Growing up the message was: there are those who take what they want (most often men, but not always), and those who give, give, give (most often women).
Those who take. And those who give. It was a very black and white view.
And of course, life is not black and white.
It can certainly be that stark sometimes (and I think it's fair to present self care as a feminist action in today's current political climate) but it isn't always. And it's important to understand when it isn't.
Over time, as I began to question old beliefs about self-care, I started to notice that the happiest, most generous women I knew were those who were better at freely and unashamedly taking good, healthy care of themselves. I saw that they didn't expect or wait for others to make sure their deepest needs got met. And that they didn't resent seeing others take good care of themselves either - in fact they supported it. They modeled for their daughters and others what it is to prioritize one's own wellbeing.
Self-care is love energy. And love is regenerative: the more you create, the more is available for spreading around your world.
And the world certainly needs love. So take some time for yourself, and let love grow.