Why Self-Care Isn't Selfish When You're Living Alone

Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish When You’re Living Alone

Culturally speaking, the Ancient Greeks were very smart and way ahead of their time. They advocated for ‘a sound mind in a sound body’ and these days we can indeed see our bodies as a reflection of our inner health and wellbeing. Now, we are very much in an age of ‘mental culture’ where the focus on our mental health and personal growth has grown exponentially. Therefore, we encourage you to steer away from any ideas suggesting self-care is a selfish endeavour, particularly when you’re living alone. We are self-reliant after all.

Why Self-Care Isn't Selfish When You're Living Alone
Tim Goedhart

The diagnosis for stress, anxiety and depression figures are on the rise and even our everyday language has changed when talking about these issues. We explore why self-care, when you’re living alone, is not selfish and why exercising self-care is something you should consider making a regular part of your life.

Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s protective!

The concept of self-care has until now struggled to gain much momentum. While there is still a lot of association between self-care and new age intensive therapy sessions or taking yourself away on a remote retreat, the aim of self-care is actually to help protect your mental health and prevent the need to go to such extremes.

Look at it this way, we don’t eat healthily and go to the gym when we are sick. We do this to prevent ourselves from becoming sick. So, in the same way, we shouldn’t neglect our mental health until something goes wrong.

Hello, how are you?

How often have you heard this question and simply answered ‘fine thanks’ or ‘very busy, as usual!’ I bet you have answered like this a lot, right? We live in a world where if you are not busy doing something or rushing here or there, you must be lazy or underachieving. 

Being a single person living alone, there are extra pressures put upon our shoulders normally of the type that would be shared equally between us and a partner – if we had one.

We are encouraged to optimise our time, multi-task and be productive – until it becomes too much to handle or we break down and need to take some time out. 

It has become more socially acceptable to have a mental health crisis these days and this is why so many employers are now adopting steps to address wellbeing in the workplace. 

However, when you have the pressure of paying the rent or mortgage and keeping up with the monthly household bills we simply don’t have the time or often the budget to take extended ‘time-out’. 

Taking your self-care seriously

According to figures from the ONS in 2017, 3.9 million people were living alone aged 16 to 64 years; a larger proportion were male (58.5%); similarly, 3.8 million people were living alone aged 65 and over but a larger proportion (66.5%) were female.

More people are living alone today than at any time in history. However, too many of us struggle to take our self-care seriously. 

Why Self-Care Isn't Selfish When You're Living Alone
Allie Smith

We need to change our thinking towards being more compassionate about ourselves if we hope for any change for the better. Learning to self-care is an invaluable skill that will arm you for life in the 21st-century.

Perhaps we all to easily dismiss self-care because it is a disruption of current ideology which places importance on being a productive and useful human being. Self-care involves diverting and taking a break from the pressures of productivity as a signal of our self-worth and instead strives to cultivate pleasures for our own inner enjoyment. 

Isn’t self-care just glorified selfishness?

Believing in your self-worth and wanting to be as healthy and contented with your life as possible shouldn’t be seen as selfishness. Don’t mistakenly think to enjoy self-care is a selfish endeavour or an indulgence to feel guilty about. You need to realise your true worth and believe that you matter. 

Neither does self-care mean going out of your way to neglect the needs of others around you. Practising self-care does not mean you are being selfish. Indeed, taking good care of yourself can, in fact, make you more open and compassionate towards the needs of others. It is simply taking the necessary steps to recharge our own wellbeing so we can take positive action to not only help ourselves but others too!

So, what can we do for ourselves?

Living alone can have its advantages when it comes to our own self-care. Once we close our front door, we don’t have to worry about the needs of others that live with us. We can enjoy the sound of silence and take a break from the constant buzz and chatter of an overly-busy world.

If you fancy a change of scenery, then the top of the list would be to book a weekend break away in a luxury hotel – alone.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in a little bit of ‘me-time’ – especially when you have had a rough week at work. When it comes to self-care, escaping solo to recharge your batteries can be just the tonic you need!

Imagine a weekend where you don’t need to food shop, cook your meals, wash up, make your bed or clean. Utter bliss! Falling out of a comfortable bed and enjoying a breakfast (cooked by someone else) and then wandering out to explore the local surroundings at your own pace can work wonders for your peace of mind. 

Travelling solo isn’t a scary prospect at all. For some inspiration, you can follow some of these solo-travellers who experience amazing adventures alone. 

Enjoy some solo-therapy

Even if you cannot stretch to a weekend away in a hotel, a day out alone can give you some much-needed solo-therapy. 

A long walk in the countryside to get a bit of nature therapy, a day trip to a neighbouring town or city can help to sort out your thoughts. Removing yourself from your usual environment can give you some valuable perspective. 

Escaping our everyday life, even for a few hours, can make us realise the world is a much bigger place. It is bigger than our own problems. Escaping even for just one day can unload a lot of the negative energy we carry around with us all week. 

While venturing for a weekend away, or even a day alone, may raise some eyebrows amongst your nearest and dearest, people around you will learn that you can function perfectly without the need for constant company. 

Self-care at home

Indulging in self-care at home is the perfect place to focus on you, away from the distraction of others. It’s a private place, where no-one can judge you as being selfish. In fact, living alone and putting yourself first is possibly a source of envy, so why not make the most of it? If it is tipping down with rain, or you simply don’t fancy escaping your usual environment, you can do a lot with your time at home to top up your batteries and indulge in a bit of essential self-care.

Make a proactive list of positive things you can do in the comfort of your own home and set out a plan to indulge in at least two or more listed activities per week – just for yourself.

Why Self-Care Isn't Selfish When You Are Living Alone
Katarzyna Baliasiewicz

When you live alone, indulging in an extra-long bath means you can do so without feeling that you are hogging it from someone else. You can sleep in at the weekend without being woken by an alarm clock. Consider staying in bed to watch a nostalgic show on Netflix without worrying about any eye-rolling or sighing from anyone else.

Leave the car at home and stroll into town or around your own neighbourhood. Wander at your own pace and at your own schedule. Take a leisurely lunch in a local pub and do a bit of people watching while sipping on a coffee.

Are you convinced self-care is not a selfish endeavour when you’re living alone? We hope so and remember, your self-care at home need not be anything elaborate. The time spent will be for you, and as selfish as it might sound, you deserve it.

WHY SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH WHEN YOU’RE LIVING ALONE

Written by
Michelle Newbold

Michelle is a freelance writer and single mum to a teenage home-educated son. Writing has always been a passion and allows her to strike a good work-life balance and harness emotional wellbeing as a single adult.

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