It’s a phrase we hear a lot – self-care. It covers such a wide range of different activities that it generally doesn’t mean any one thing in particular.
Broadly speaking, it’s an activity we undertake to take care of our emotional, physical and mental wellbeing and, despite what the name suggests, therefore doesn’t need to be an activity which is solo or purely in our own self-interests. Self-care can encompass everything from having dinner with a friend to cleaning the kitchen. Here, we’ve debunked some of the myths that come along with the blanket term ‘self-care’ and will hopefully stop it becoming yet another thing that we have to make time to fit into our ever-expanding schedules.
Self-care is Relaxing
No. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Self-care is taking responsibility for yourself, and that includes the things that might be difficult, unpleasant, or just downright boring. It might be sitting down once a week with a spreadsheet to work out your finances and where you need to make cuts to save for something or, more likely, pay something off or contribute towards an essential item.
Treat yo’ self is a fun but irresponsible mantra if the treats involve putting yourself into debt or spending money which has been allocated towards other things. Taking action and responsibility to alleviate life things that cause you to stress is a healthy and necessary part of self-care. All the bubble bath in the world won’t help you if you can’t make rent.
Self-care is not Adulting
It absolutely is. You have to be your own parent – make choices that are about looking after yourself, rather than distracting yourself. Eat and drink responsibly. Make smart decisions because no one else is going to do it for you. In a world of infinite possibilities, there are a thousand wrong choices… But that also means there are a thousand right choices and it’s up to you to make them.
Self-care is Escapism
Self-care is facing up to your life rather than avoiding it. If you are constantly seeking out distractions in the form of booze and procrastination, then you are the only one who can stop yourself from doing that. Every moment we live is another one we won’t get back, so make the most of each and every one. We aren’t saying that making the smart decision is always going to be the easy one – far from it – but every day is about taking small steps in the direction of who you want to be.
Self-care is Acceptance
Yes and no. It can be both accepting how you’re going to do something, so maybe you look at using e-liquid instead of going cold turkey on quitting smoking. It’s also about accepting that maybe you aren’t going to have that perfect, Jennifer Lawrence figure because caring for yourself and your physical wellbeing doesn’t involve starving and sculpting your body every hour of the day.
Self-care is Saying No
This one is absolutely true. Life is about minimizing regrets without hurting other people. Will you regret going out, spending money, potentially waking up with a sore head and having a less-than-productive tomorrow so it would be more beneficial to you to stay in? Or will you go out, socialize, have a great time and enjoy yourself, rather than sitting at home in front of Friends reruns feeling bored and lonely? Of the two, which option will look after your spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing the most? Weigh up that question whenever you are faced with a decision.
Of course, if it’s your best friend’s birthday and you will cause him/her upset by not going out, then that could be the solution. It’s important to recognize when you’re making the right decision for yourself, but also not to put that decision-making process above the feelings of other people. Balance this with knowing when to say no to people, even if they really want you to do something. There’s no black and white, right or wrong answer to this, unfortunately. Knowing when to put yourself first, and when to put others first is a skill to practice.
Remember, ultimately, self-care is a practice. No one is expecting you to get everything right on your first go-round. Everyone has that friend who seems to have an unbelievably perfect life, through which they sail leaving behind them a wake of perfection and ease. Don’t be fooled. Everyone is having the same struggles, the same worries and the same concerns as you. Be the hero of your own life and take responsibility for good self-care this year.