Before I joined CALCASA in 2009, I was all about self-care for one reason: It felt good. Not a bad reason … actually, I’d say it’s a fantastic reason. However, it wasn’t until I started to understand more aspects of this work — and the coordinated efforts it takes to prevent sexual violence — that the larger motivations for wellness started to dawn on me. Recently a friend of mine sent me the following:

“The systems of oppression thrive on our denial of our needs.” This last part hit me like a ton of bricks. If there’s the slightest chance of re-creating this system, it has to start with each individual investing in oneself. And self-care doesn’t have to look like yoga or meditation. Just like the paragraph above says: “Whatever I am doing for myself (obviously provided that I’m not violating anyone else) is valid and important, because I am important.” So, in no particular order — and with no research whatsoever — here are my 10 reasons for self-care:

  1. You feel better. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but seriously, if you take a few minutes to breathe deeply, take a walk or read a book, your stress level will decrease.
  2. You can better care for others. When your mind is scattered and you’re still trying to process the events happening in your life, it’s pretty hard to be present for someone else who needs you.
  3. You look healthier. When I fall out of the habit of taking care of myself, I hear these words more frequently from my co-workers: “You look tired.” “Are you sick?” “Go home.” This is a reminder for me that I have got to do something for myself.
  4. It feels good. Like I said before, this is why I started investing more in self-care (yoga, specifically), and it’s a perfectly good reason to make wellness a daily practice.
  5. It’s you-time. Whether at work, home or in the community, you’re interacting with people who have a variety of needs. Setting aside time for yourself allows you to identify your own needs.
  6. Avoid becoming ill. When you’re faced with a lot of stress, you actually start to manifest physical symptoms. Some research says that 90 percent of doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress related.
  7. Increase your productivity. It’s amazing — even when I feel like I have more work than the hours in the day, taking some time for self-care actually creates more time for me. I’m able to think with clarity and prioritize what needs to get finished.
  8. Develop healthy practices. When you start taking care of yourself in one aspect of your life — say, work — it permeates to other areas as well.
  9. You deserve it. Seriously! Everyone deserves to take care of one’s needs!
  10. “The systems of oppression thrive on our denial of our needs.” I come back to this because, if nothing else, take care of yourself so we can change the system — so we are one step closer to destroying the systems of oppression.

Pass this along … encourage others to bring more wellness in their lives!