There’s a lot of hoopla about “self-care” and there’s also a lot of push back against the commercialized term.
When it started to explode, I was not doing self-care, in any definition of the word. I was working my ass off in college, while also volunteering a lot and taking care of my unemployed live-in boyfriend. I ate Mr. Noodles for dinner. Sometimes, I ate more than one package in a day.
If I got any moment of time where I felt I didn’t have to work, I collapsed in bed and watched Netflix. Sometimes, I’d just collapse in bed and do nothing while having panic attacks about how much work I needed to do. Once, I didn’t sleep two nights in a row because I had so much work.
I thought self-care was for people who were weak, for people who couldn’t work hard.
Then, after a number of breakdowns where I lay in bed sobbing for days, binge watching funny shows and eating crap food, I realized that I needed to take care of myself. Fact is, I’m a young woman living in a city away from most of her family. I have great friends and sometimes partners who don’t leech off me, but I’m still the best candidate for making sure my own needs are met.
There was a lot of struggle as I started focusing on the definition of self-care that is so lightly thrown around the Internet. There was some lying in the bathtub, feeling awkward and not understanding how being in a hard basin with hot water and bubble bath I couldn’t afford was relaxing. Some friends took me to Thermea where I tried my best not to freak without constant access to my work emails. I put a lot of energy into making myself sit and read a book when I kept wanting to get up and to write an article or clean or do anything productive.
I made myself try the things I loved doing as a child and I made myself try new things that terrified me.
I re-evaluated my work situation and why I wasn’t bringing in enough money. I made a food budget and a fun-stuff budget and a new clothes budget.
Experimenting with the over-commercialized “self-care,” I realized what self-care really, truly is.
Binging on cupcakes is not self-care. It’s unhealthy indulgence. What is self-care is going over the grocery budget by a few bucks to get organic veggies.
Splurging on an expensive dress is not self-care. It’s an unnecessary, poor decision pick-me-up for a bad day. Self-care is splurging on a trip to the dentist. Less tooth troubles equals better days.
Spending an entire day in bed watching Netflix isn’t self-care. It’s probably coping with a shitty time. Self care is spending an entire day hiking in a beautiful forest, which is a physically and mentally healthy activity that will leave you feeling better.
Self-care has become extremely important in my life. For me, it is:
- Taking time to make delicious healthy meals.
- Not regularly working more than 40 hour weeks.
- Allowing myself to be carefree and silly every day, even if I just dance in my kitchen by myself.
- Pushing myself to say no to helping people when I’m at my limit.
- Accepting that time doing things which make me happy isn’t time wasted.
- Focusing on my mental health issues and actively working to reduce my anxiety.
- Fitting fun, physical activity into every week, if not every day.
- Spending time with people who respect, love and inspire me.
Understanding the basics to keep you mentally and physically happy is important. Sometimes, it’s going to be difficult. When it’s too much to handle, you can ask someone who loves you to take on a couple of your self-care tasks, knowing that in the future you’ll be happy to do the same for them.
In this week’s episode of Ramblings of an Anxious Mess, I talk about what to do when you’re struggling with meeting your basic self-care needs and why we need to create a better community for everyone.