Self-full and selfcare: how not to suck at it


How I keep my cup full, family, holidays with friends, weekends away…


We don’t know how to look after ourselves and if we know we don’t do it because we don’t see it as important.

As a doctor and in my private life I see the casualties of this phenomena. The friend engrossed in a new relationship that they forget to look after themselves. The daughter  so caught up with looking after an ill relative they doesn’t eat properly. The newly qualified doctor who never has lunch because they’re too busy doing jobs.

Lots think taking care of themselves is a luxury and pastime for others with little else to do. “When you are busy you don’t have time for that nonsense.” It’s not an uncommon attitude and I have uttered those words myself before. There is also a notion that to look after yourself is selfish. “You should always put others first right. You shouldn’t always think about yourself.” Without qualifying those statements with a healthy dose of boundaries, I can’t express to you how harmful I think this attitude is.

Being busy these days is some sort of status symbol. And being too busy to look after yourself is almost a norm. So we go on in our day to day life and yes we survive. We don’t fall apart. That doctor who missed lunch again to do the 3 discharge letters in under 15 minutes got them done.

But what happens when things go wrong? When that doctor who doesn’t know how to look after themselves makes a mistake at work and has to deal with that, how do cope then? Badly is the answer. Same for the girl in a relationship when there is a rough patch. Same for the relative when their family member gets a terminal diagnosis.

Exactly the point at which the self care elements need to be amped up, you start from ground zero and although not impossible it makes it harder.

I have a simple mind and I like simple concepts. My cup represents me. My job is to keep my cup full. I fill my cup with selfcare and all the things that make me happy. When my cup if overflowing you can have some when that’s not the case though, I have nothing to give without stealing from myself. It’s not selfish it’s self-full.

When your cup is already empty and there is a tragedy in your life no wonder you will struggle. And to be honest it doesn’t even have to be a big thing. When you’re running on empty everything can seem like a challenge.

We often confuse self care and self-full with selfish. Saying no to an evening out because you need to sleep early isn’t selfish when you’re at work the next day and you know you will be tired, it is look after yourself. Yes it’s different if it’s a friend in need calling you who is having a terrible day but generally putting yourself first is just good sense. Saying no isn’t selfish. I think a lot of people have a problem with that word.

I have no shame in saying that I put me first. I’m my number one priority. The truth is if I’m not my own number one priority then who else will priorities me? No one. Of course there are people who care deeply for me and I also care deeply for them but if I fall down and hurt myself, I feel it more than anyone else. My success and failures ultimately affect me the most. I have also seen first hand the affects of living with an empty cup. That Salma isn’t a good doctor, sister or friend. Equally it isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to fill my cup up.


The first step to self care and keeping your cup full and being self-full is to change the way you think about it. No it’s not a luxury. Yes we all need to practice it. No it isn’t selfish. Ultimately more people walking around with filled cups have more to give to each other. I for one say cheers to that!

Until the next post,









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