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Is Self-Care Self-Centered?

Abby Foster
| December 22, 2016

In order to sustain my recovery I’ve had to find a pattern for living that is conducive to recovery, health, and living a fulfilling life.  This is an ongoing discovery process and an area where I struggle.  When I fail to make self-care a priority I reach the point of complete exhaustion.  I am quick to anger, stressed out, and emotional.

I am a single mother, and a women in recovery.  I know other mothers in recovery who like me, have a tendency to overdo things to prove to ourselves, and everyone else, that we are okay, we are enough, and their is no way we are going to loose control of things like we did in active addiction.  If I allow it, exhaustion can become a way of life.

When I refuse to ask for or accept the help offered to me it is because I can confuse self-care with self-centeredness.  I spent so many years of my life self involved that I pray daily to be relieved from self-centeredness.  But the truth is, recovery requires that we take time and energy into focusing on healing and caring for ourselves.  Recovery or self-care must be a priority.

Below are self-care suggestions in three areas of life that anyone can start implementing.  These will be old news to many of you who are reading this, myself included.  But, if you are anything like me knowing what’s good for me and doing what’s good for me can be two different things.


  1. Get moving
    Whether it is taking a walk on your lunch break or training for a triathlon exercise will get those “feel-good” endorphins going and relieve stress.  Find something you enjoy.  I try to do something everyday.  Sometimes it is a simple walk on the beach.
  2. Get good sleep
    Keeping a regular sleep pattern is beneficial in many ways.  Sleep helps promote healthy brain function and emotional well-being.  Sleep helps maintain healthy balance of our hormones and sleep deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system response.  Two changes I have made are I’ve set a daily alarm on my phone that alerts me to get settled for bed and I no longer have a television in my room.  No more up all night because I was sucked into a Netflix binge.
  3. Eat healthy
    I don’t know about you but I can seek ease and comfort from stress via sea-salt chocolate caramels.  But when I consume large amounts of unhealthy foods often the following day I feel sluggish and regretful.  Research shows that food directly affects our mood and healthy foods promote a healthier mood.


  1. Shift your Self-perception
    Seeing ourselves as worthy and as enough requires seeing ourselves with love.  Acceptance and love must start within.  Too often I catch myself being overly judgmental, hard, and borderline abusive to myself through my own thoughts.  When I shared this with a friend she said “You had better stop speaking to my friend (me) that way.  I will not allow that.”  Her simple statement rattled me- I would never speak to another person the way I speak to myself.  My self talk needed an overhaul.
  2. Take time
    Relax, even if it for only a few minutes.  Stress is extremely damaging! Our everyday stress is the worst because it is pecking at us constantly.  Taking a walk, getting a massage, being out with nature, meditation are all good suggestions but again do what works for you.  Here is when I need to ask for the help of others.  I have to take time to be with myself and relax and get re-centered.  Over the summer while school was out I needed to ask someone to watch over my son so I could have some “me time”.  This can be extremely hard for me.  My pride and ego want to do it all on my own, I got this!  The reality is, sure I can push through and handle it alone but at what expense?  My sanity? My son’s feelings because I had an outburst resulting from my short fuse.


  1. Find your tribe
    In recovery I had to learn how to not isolate, how to let down my guard.  Your tribe is your support group.  Whether it is recovery fellowship, supportive family, or a peer support group connection to others is essential for a full life.  I cannot practice self-care without allowing others into my life.
  2. Find your person
    Speaking with my therapist is a major part of my self-care.  For others it may be a mentor or a close and trusted friend. Regardless of who you choose, it is important to find someone you can be completely open and honest with.
  3. Set boundaries
    When I fail to set and or keep healthy personal boundaries, I become unfocused, exhausted, and completely knocked off balance. When our boundaries are weak, unguarded, or unclear we let in all sorts of stuff that isn’t actually our stuff, and we give away our own personal energy without even realizing it.

Self-care is not the same as self-centeredness.  Making efforts to nurture ourselves is essential and a part of the healing process from all the years of practiced self-neglect and self-abuse.  We are worthy and deserve to be loved especially by ourselves.

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1      Sharing your story of hope to inspire others. You can do this directly on the Heroes website Share Your Story. Click the ‘share yours’ link. Tell them Margaret sent you!

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