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Self-care isn’t a millennial trend—it’s a fundamental need

It’s been co-opted as a booming consumer trend for millennials and a snowflake-laden weakness by people who dislike millennials, but the truth is when we talk about self-care, we’re actually talking about emotional intelligence and self-awareness—and those aren’t new concepts.

When we knowingly neglect our mental, physical or emotional health in pursuit of our own ideas of success and happiness, those sacrifices take a larger toll while their impact on our lives diminishes. The less we take care of ourselves, the more energy and resources we waste trying to maintain a standard of production, whether that’s at work, at home or within personal relationships. Though self-care might sound more like a day at the spa than a fundamental human need, the truth is no one can thrive without at least some awareness of what is and isn’t good for them.

The generational self-care gap isn’t imagined as it’s certainly found mainstream exposure thanks to the millennial generation and the rise of social media. A 2015 Pew Research Center report found millennials care more about personal improvement than any prior generation and spend considerably more than boomers on essentials related to their health, fitness and general well-being. Google searches related to self-care reached a “five-year high” after the 2016 presidential election, according to an NPR report from June 2017.

“Our generation has seen enough,” Gracy Obuchowicz, a self-care mentor and coach in Washington, D.C., told NPR. “People are really hungry for knowledge. It’s a relatively new idea in our culture that we would be paying attention to how we feel and using that as a kind of intelligence. It’s something that’s really waking up in our culture and our generation.”

When work and personal demands pile up, we tend to shift around the pieces of our lives that were devoted to only ourselves to make sure it all gets done. It’s when that method of productivity and life management becomes an ongoing habit without a conscious commitment to self-care that it can become detrimental. It is only with a healthy knowledge of self-care at home and in the workplace that we can effectively start to manage the effects of an overworked, overstressed life.

It’s not selfish to take care of ourselves. It’s the only way we can effectively take care of others.

 

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