Your Family Needs You: Why Familismo and Self-care Aren’t at Odds
Balancing familismo and self-care goals can be a difficult task for those of Latin American descent. It can often feel that the needs of the many (the family) outweigh the needs of the few (the self).
However, self-care and care for others are not always distinctly separate ideas. In fact, good mental health is dependent upon recognizing how your impact on others’ lives is intrinsically linked to your own wellbeing.
So, if you’re neglecting yourself for the sake of others, you may actually be doing more harm than good. Fortunately, through the same compassionate consideration you give others, you can learn to balance self-care and familismo.
The following tips are just some of the ways to take better care of your family through better care of yourself:
Setting Healthy Boundaries And Expectations
Sometimes self-care can look like an act of selfishness, especially to the one looking in the mirror.
When others need you, spending the time reading a book, relaxing in the sun or eating at a favorite restaurant seem like luxuries you cannot afford. And, even in the most honest relationships, the absence of healthy boundaries can create a slippery slope toward over-reliance.
Although knowing when to say yes or no to making personal sacrifices can be hard, it’s ultimately healthier. Promoting and maintaining healthy boundaries and expectations for yourself and others is integral to feeling good about yourself and your relationships.
Frequently, all this requires is a clear line of communication. Take care to communicate your needs, so that expectations are realistic and beneficial to all parties.
Minding Goals For Long Term Benefits
For many Latino youth, this can be particularly true as they may struggle to balance traditional expectations with the evolution of life in college or a new career.
It may be that academics takes you to a different place in the country. Or, a new promising career demands more time focusing on work. Understandably, competitiveness in the workplace and academic environments can make it tough to fulfill familismo obligations. Just remember, that parents and family ultimately wish success for one another. Thus, that may require some sacrifice on their end too.
Self-care involves a devotion to achieving goals that others may not have had the opportunity to pursue. By living up to your potential, even though it may require tough choices in the short-run, you are benefiting your existing family and a family you may not even have yet.
Knowing When To Make Personal Sacrifices Versus Shared Sacrifices
Self-sacrifice can be a large part of familismo, but can also be a hindrance to your own well-being. This can be particularly true in cases of elderly family members who require close monitoring or medical care. You might be taking time off work to run errands or make regular visitations. And while no one would suggest ignoring someone in need, it’s important to recognize and address your own needs as well.
Too much sacrifice can lead to feelings of depression, isolation, and even resentment. It’s important to share the sacrifice you are making so that no one person is left with the sole responsibility. That means asking others for help when you need it. Creating an environment of shared responsibility can give you internal peace and physical relief without the guilt.
Knowing When To Ask For Help With Personal Mental Health Issues
If you are suffering from a psychological condition, knowing when to ask for help can be difficult. Maybe you’re overly stressed from work, school, or illness, and nothing seems to be getting better. Maybe anxiety, depression, or trauma is taking control of your life and despite their efforts, your family can’t help. In these cases, self-care involves looking for comfort outside of your traditional comfort zone.
Family can be a great and powerful resource for many things. However, counseling can provide you insight and guidance beyond what your family can provide. By addressing your own psychological needs, you can regain control of your life. In turn, you’ll become more genuinely present in the lives of those you love.
Invest In Your Own Wellbeing As An Act Of Familismo
Self-care is more than just knowing when to help yourself and when to make sacrifices. Successfully engaging in the activities of daily life is a central part of a rewarding and healthy life. It’s eating well, exercising, managing stress, and engaging in activities that give you pleasure. It’s paying the bills, seeing the doctor when needed, and forming relationships outside of your family.
At its core, it is the practice of fostering good health, happiness, and empowerment throughout your life. Despite how it may seem, by embracing self-care, you become more capable of helping the ones you love, by ensuring your own well-being and success. Your family needs you, but they need you to be healthy and your own person first. Remember, that in order to help others, sometimes you have to help yourself.