Maintaining Practicing

Radical Self-Care: Putting Yourself First

self care

On a surface level, the notion of emphasizing “self” over “others” can seem like a negative. But a time-honored health and wellness concept that has been unearthed amid the pandemic is encouraging people to do such a thing with the belief it will have a positive outcome in the long run.

After a year filled with stay-at-home-orders, social isolation, fears of the unknown, and a whole host of other challenging, anxiety-inducing circumstances, the concept of “radical self-care” has become a trend that essentially has come at the hands of necessity.

What is it?

At its core, radical self-care is a relatively simple concept, though its actual execution can be challenging because it flies in the face of cultural norms.

Indiana State University offers a good synopsis of what is at the heart of radical self-care: “(It) is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others. It’s necessary to fill your cup first, then give to others from the overflow.”

By following this direct sequence of events, the ISU article states people practicing the principles of radical self-care have “the capacity to heal and to move forward into your next chapter of life.”

People practicing radical self-care dig deep within themselves and, when necessary, seek out the expertise and resources of a psychiatrist, therapist, or other mental health professional. The practice involves the mind, body, and spirit, with the goal of achieving a positive mindset in a sustained manner — regardless of the external circumstances in play.

The “radical” part of the practice encourages people to stare down negative thoughts (beliefs or messages) that commonly are based on falsehoods — or, at best, half-truths that do not take the full picture into account.

The concept dissuades people from comparing themselves to others and refraining from measuring self-worth through the prism of other people’s sets of expectations. The practice encourages people to take part in activities that promote stress relief and bring a more fulfilling, well-rounded life.

The concept arose pre-pandemic, but is more timely than ever

Mental health experts and scholars have shared various elements of radical self-care for years, but the all-encompassing concept has rung true as people begin navigating a pre-pandemic life and examining priorities.

Research and expert opinions state there is no hard-and-fast way to practice radical self-care. Because no two people are alike, the means of achieving the goals and objectives of the practice will vary.

An hour-long session with a therapist will be meaningful to some people, while meditation will bring fruitful results to others. A renewed emphasis on religion, spiritual practices, or prayer also could be worth pursuing.

Regardless of the path taken, scholars Donna J. Nicol and Jennifer A. Yee say there are common threads found in radical self-care. They expound on them in their paper, “Reclaiming Our Time.”

“We consider this self-care ‘radical’ because it fundamentally alters how we make choices about allocating time, money, and energy for ourselves, personally, at home, and at work, and seek to revolutionize our workplace practices,” Nicol and Yee wrote.

When “practiced faithfully,” Nicol and Yee say people adopting a radical self-care mindset are more poised to unapologetically be their true selves and, in doing so, can begin the task of caring for others as needs arise.

-Dave Fidlin

Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels




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