Self-care or self-destructive?

Self-care is a downright touchy subject.

Currently, the term ‘self-care’ is kind of floating around on Twitter and in hashtags on Instagram and in turn everyone is sort of dancing around the issue. Nobody is really addressing it at any length, others have no idea about it.

If you’ve not yet searched ‘self-care ideas’ or ‘tips for self-care’ on google, don’t. If you do, you’ll be wasting your time and be wishing you hadn’t (trust me). You’ll be met with list upon list written by bloggers and columnists of ‘AMAZING self-care activities’ such as ‘do a face mask and read some magazines’ or ‘buy yourself the shoes you’ve been eyeing up’ or ‘go and treat yourself to lunch in your favourite restaurant or ‘book yourself a holiday’.  You can imagine how the list continues.

We now live in a society where people believe that self-indulgence truly equates to self-care. And yes, while it is nice to ‘treat yoself’ occasionally, frittering away money and buying yourself ‘stuff’ does not and will not cure any amount of woes.

Sorry.

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The sooner everyone stops replacing genuine self-care methods with unnecessary and sporadic bouts of indulgence the better. Buying a new pair of shoes, convincing yourself you deserve them and pretending they will cheer you up and enhance your life somewhat is nothing more than a fickle coping mechanism: it is not a valid method of self-care.

There is a very fine line between self-care and coping. An overpriced latte in a fancy takeaway cup might make you feel somewhat contented for fifteen minutes but it’s not going to cure anything. It’s a temporary fix for a bigger problem and ultimately does more harm than good. Attempting to cure a problem simply by coping is destructive. It quickly becomes a never ending cycle of trying to fix a bigger problem with small, ineffective and occasional remedies.

Other ‘recommended’ methods of self-care I’ve had the displeasure of coming across include ‘eat your favourite food’ or ‘watch some episodes of your favourite TV show’ or ‘have a glass of wine’. I enjoy curling up in bed having a Netflix binge and a bottle  glass of wine as much as the next person but I know it isn’t good for me. No amount of re-runs of Ru Paul’s Drag Race are going to improve my well-being or my health. Another recommendation I’ve seen plastered around the internet is to ‘read the bible’ which would be a fair recommendation if everyone was religious. A lot of people are not and nor do they desire to be. That’s the thing about self-care. No one method works for everyone. Just like no one method of studying for an exam works for everyone.

Self-care is concerned with taking responsibility for your health and well-being -both mental and physical. It is concerned with making choices that are beneficial to your health and maintaining this lifestyle. For some this could be integrating exercise into their daily routine or maintaining a rigid sleep schedule to ensure that 8 hours of sleep a night is consistently achievable. It could be something as simple as getting 20 minutes of fresh air every day. To put it simply, it’s about making conscious choices from which your body and mind will benefit.

Learning and accepting self-care isn’t a walk in the park. Even the most insignificant methods of self-care can be difficult. Particularly for those who are out of practice and for those who are more self-destructive and self-deprecating than others. Self-care isn’t something that is easy to get into a habit of. Everyone is too worried about everyone and everything but themselves. Furthermore, nobody truly has enough time in their day to dedicate a large chunk of it solely to self-care. It is easier for people to reject self-care and as a result end up mentally and/or physically unwell.

Ultimately, self-care is not a one time thing. You can’t practice it once and expect to be eternally fine, that is unrealistic. It should be an ongoing practice for people of all ages when and wherever possible. Taking time to truly care for yourself is not selfish as so many people are inclined to think. It is healthy and it should be encouraged, supported and prioritised by everyone.

Leigh.

 

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