11/27/2013 11:53 am ET Updated Jan 27, 2014

Is Self-Care Selfish?

If I decided to leave work early to go get a massage, what would you say? She's a slacker? I'm not paying you to get a massage during working hours? If you have time to get a massage, then I need to give you more work to do?

As a society, I think most of us grew up with the belief that doing things for ourselves is selfish, that if we were busy enough, we wouldn't have time to engage in frivolous activities like getting a massage. Yet, over the past couple of weeks I've realized that: 1) no one else will take care of us, and 2) if we don't take care of ourselves, we'll have nothing left to give.

Wynonna Judd once said:

"You have to fill your cup. You then give away the overflowing, but you keep a cupful for yourself."

In fact, I was just talking about this in an interview yesterday. Promoting the virtues of filling up your own cup and giving from the overflow, rather than giving everything you have to give away, leaving you broken and destitute. Such good advice. Too bad I fight myself every time I try to take it!
So how does one go about filling their cup til it's overflowing when it's selfish to fill our cup at all? For an answer, I turned to the "Queen of Self-Love", Christine Arylo's book Madly in Love with Me.

I almost didn't bother. In my mind, I knew what self-care was and I was already doing a good job of it. Weekly massage? Check. Reading for pleasure every day? Check. What more do you need, right? Wrong.

Christine Arylo's definition of self-care went way beyond what I had been doing or what I thought of as self-care.

"[Self-care is] Choosing to make sure that you get what you need on all levels - physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally - every day." - Christine Arylo

Uhh.. well, dang. I guess getting a massage every week isn't cutting it. So I began looking at what I am choosing to do every day for myself. I found my list woefully lacking. Make sure I eat several well-balanced meals throughout my day? Check - as long as something else doesn't get in the way like a meeting or that I'm running behind or that I forget to eat. So maybe not a check.

Listening to my body when it's hurting and wants to move because I've been sitting at my desk working all day? Um.... Check, after I finish whatever it is that I think is more important than listening to my body.

Making time to pray and meditate every day? Check, but only as I am trying to fall asleep or if I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.

So this week, I am focusing on self-care.

What does self-care mean to me?
1. Not booking more than 1 meeting a day while I am on sabbatical and trying to heal my heart, mind, and body.
2. Spending my early mornings journaling and meditating rather than checking email at 5:30 in the morning while still lying in bed.
3. Eating regularly. I'm shooting for 5 well-balanced meals a day.
4. Reaching out to my friends when I need to talk instead of bottling it up inside.
5. Making time to do the things I love each day and not letting my endless to do list get in the way.
6. Unplugging at least one hour before bed, ideally at 6 or 7 pm.
7. Listening to my body. When it's hurting, stop doing what's making it hurt and figure out what it needs to feel better.
8. Taking at least one complete day off every week. As it's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., I am toying with taking 4 whole days off. That might just send me into freak out zone; maybe I'll shoot for 2 instead.

What about you? What does self-care mean to you and how do you make time for you every day? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Until next time, make some time for you. No one else will.