Finding Self-Care in Serving Others


Consider this idea: your self-care can be found in serving others around you.

I don’t mean taking care of your children or your spouse, because that is a given as a mother or as a parent.

You are doing a great job, by the way!

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I look around and see self-care being promoted as focusing on yourself, which can contradict what we’re trying to achieve or encourage others to achieve. We are trying to achieve happiness, relaxation, peace, health, all the good things, aren’t we? 

Yes, we need to brush our teeth every day, take a shower every day, the normal hygienic things to be healthy both physically and mentally. Also, things like exercise because endorphins are good and healing. But are we hurting ourselves to think that ‘just 30 minutes alone, even if it’s just in my car away from my kids’ is going to bring me some peace? Or how about thinking ‘man, I can’t wait for that glass of [insert alcohol of choice] after my kids go to bed’ or ‘I can’t wait to indulge in [insert guilty pleasure]’?

Be honest with yourself.

From my experience, these are not really acts of true self-care. If I dwell on those desires, in fact, it only breeds more anxiety and exhaustion. I’m talking about the longing for time alone, away from my kids, whether it be shopping, gardening, going to the spa, anything that’s self-serving. If I end up getting that time alone, does it really heal my soul and bring me happiness? Maybe temporarily. I don’t think it fixes the root of the problem, though.

Don’t get me wrong. Pedicures are awesome. Time alone is awesome. But I don’t view it as the solution to my problem with anxiety.

I have found joy and happiness in serving others, though. I have found it in focusing on others, not myself, and being mindful of that. 

I try to incorporate that in my everyday life, in my interactions with others, even in what I say on social media and how I react to others. 

I also try to look for bigger ways to serve others in my life, whether it be bringing a meal to someone or listening to a friend that’s hurting (and dare I say in the time of Covid, giving them a hug, as well?) or passing along our baby gear to someone in need or pulling weeds in a friend’s garden. 

I try to incorporate all of that into my life as a parent, too. I want my kids to see that behavior and to contribute to it, even as little as they are. Thinking about day-to-day interactions, I want my kids to see that I treat people with kindness and don’t speak hatefully or focus on ME and what I deserve. 

Planting and watering a friend’s garden

Don’t we want our kids to become those kinds of people that look after others’ needs and make the world a better place? 

Don’t get me wrong on all of this. I do fail – because I’m human. But I don’t resort to that failure. So, I encourage you, as well, to pick yourself up and try again. 

Coming from a mom that likes pedicures and time alone, I think that if you start to look outward for ways to serve others, you will find true healing and true self-care. 

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Growing up in Devils Den State Park, Arkansas has certainly influenced my career choice. I'm an Extension Horticulture Educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service via Oklahoma State University. I have 3 little children and a kind-hearted husband that stays at home with them while I work (more than) full time. We love quality time together, whether it be going to church, hanging out with cousins, checking our plants in the garden, or anything else. We love to travel and hope to bring our kids on our international adventures in the distant future.


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