Is It Selfish To Take Time For Self-Care?


Published:

Dr. Miles Nichols practicing qigong meditation.

As a functional medicine and Oriental medicine doctor seeing patients with complex chronic diseases, I admit my perspective may be skewed. However, it seems to me as if a majority of our culture is excessively worried and maintains an unhealthfully busy schedule. People are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life and unable to commit the time to self-care and meditation practices. Further, many people today seem to be preoccupied with trying to simply get through the complex web of obligations they have. Many of my patients complain that they are struggling with fatigue, emotional turmoil, and even just getting through their day is a push.

There was a fascinating study that followed nearly 1,000 adults ages 34-93 for 5 years. The researchers tracked who died by looking at obituaries and state death records during that time. Participants were also interviewed about stressful events and about whether they had tangibly served family and/or friends in meaningful ways. The researchers concluded that for every major stressful event over the past year there was a 30% increase in the risk of dying over the next 5 years! This was a shockingly high statistic. However, those who were caring for and serving others did not have increased risk of death from stressful events. In other words, those who were caring for family and friends who also had significant stressful events had equally low risk of death as those without significant stressful events.1

Recently I was teaching a weekend meditation retreat on the system called Sheng Zhen Meditation, and one participant mentioned that she was there because she wanted to learn self-care. She commented that she had two children and a husband and that between her family and her work, she wasn’t taking time for herself. She felt like she had no issues giving to others, but she was feeling burnt out and that her fatigue and digestion were becoming bigger and bigger issues. She felt that stress and lack of self-care might have something to do with her symptoms.

So, if serving and caring for others saves lives and cultivates resilience in the face of stress, but focusing on family and work together with other obligations of life leaves little time for self-care and contributes to burnout, how does one come to terms with the appropriate balance between serving others and investing in personal care? Research suggests that meditation practice reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer today. Is it selfish to indulge in activities focused on yourself?

In order to resolve this dilemma, it is important to consider the big picture over the long-term. Right now it might seem that self-care activities like meditation are taking away from your ability to be there and help and serve your family and friends. However, what are the long-term implications are of overextending, maintaining a schedule that is too busy, and burdening yourself with increasingly more worries? Will your ability to help and serve others eventually dwindle and decline together with your energy, motivation, and productivity?
Many times I find that my patients have dug themselves into a hole through pushing too hard for too long. When they burn out and become able to barely get through their days, they are not helping or serving others at all. Instead they get sick and have a long road ahead of working through the process of reversing chronic illness, which involves establishing strong self-care habits. These habits allow for increased energy and motivation to help others.

For me, the resolution to the dilemma of how to balance self-care and service to others comes naturally from looking at how best to serve others over the long run. When I think about how I can most fully serve and support other people for years and decades into the future, I clearly realize that I must care for myself enough to maintain my energy and drive. Otherwise, I may give what seems like a lot now but then burn out and shortchange many future years of giving. It is now very clear to me that self-care is a significant part of long-term service to others. Meditation practices such as Sheng Zhen Meditation are focused on opening the heart, cultivating love, and enriching self-awareness and ability to help others more fully.

Many people complain that they do not have time for self-care. Meditation can improve focus and productivity, meaning that it more than makes up for the time invested in increased efficiency. Anxiety and depression have been found to decrease with meditation practice, allowing for a more balanced emotional state that can again focus more on serving others rather than having to spend so much time and energy regulating personal emotional struggles.

Imagine how different your life can look one year from now if you start a mediation practice today and continue it for a full year every single day. Who knows? Perhaps when you start to care for yourself, maybe your family and friends will be inspired to do the same for themselves as well, and you will find your heart opening to bigger inspirations daily.

Notes
1.Michael J. Poulin et al., “Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality”, American Journal of Public Health, September 2013

Dr. Miles Nichols, DAOM, MSOM, LAc, is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine with a functional medicine practice, who devotes his free time to studying and researching health, nutrition and mindfulness. To find out more, visit LivingLoveCommunity.com. For details about his 3-part workshop “Reversing Chronic Disease and Restoring Health and Happiness” at Eastover Retreat Center April 25-30, visit eastover.com.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 20, 2019

Happy Spring! This is a hyperactive day, astrologically one of the year’s busiest. The Virgo Moon is on a dizzying path all morning while feisty Mars forms an empowering trine to Pluto. Fortunately, Mercury’s timely late morning sextile to Saturn helps…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2019

Sunday afternoon: 3–4:30pm at Hillside Herbals Spring Tonics II: the spring tonic herbs—it's about circulation, assimilation and elimination—tincturing. Rachel has...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Hillside Herbals
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Show More...
Show Less...

March 20–23 9am-3pm each day Experience transformation guided by Mother Mary. Through Divine vibration, you will be aligned for quicker healing and evolving with mind body spirit and...

Cost: $500

Where:
, MA


Sponsor: The LoveLight Center
Telephone: (207) 216-9584
Contact Name: Cheryl Banfield

More information

The American Center for Bioregulatory Medicine and Dentistry (The BioMed Center) is the most comprehensive center in North America for bioregulatory medicine and dentistry. Come see what...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
111 Chestnut Street
Providence, RI
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This 8 week series in Tai Chi will provide you with everything you need to get started in a personal Tai Chi practice. Just for Beginners—there is no expectation, and no pressure in...

Cost: $137 for 8 weeks

Where:
Spiral Path Connections
218 Boston Street
Unit 104
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiral Path
Telephone: 978-314-4264
Contact Name: Johanna Hattendorf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“All we need is love” the Beatles claimed in 1960’s. In fact, we have been looking for love from the beginning of time. We are conditioned that it is love which brings us...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the...

Cost: $30 (some hardship rates available)

Where:
Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain, MA  02130
View map »


Telephone: 617-233-6410
Contact Name: Allen Howell, M.Ed.LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Only $225 if you register for both days! Save $25! Please click here to register for both workshops. This is a 2 day course being held Saturday and Sunday, March 23...

Cost: $125

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha Healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki Master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

In her art and spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center & Gallery
1110 Massachussetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women Of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Telephone: (508) 230-3680
Website »

More information

6 Saturdays 10am–11:30am February 23–March 30, 2019 Taijiquan (Tai Chi ) is a healing martial art, using breath and movement together to strengthen the body and quiet...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags