An Alternative Definition to Self-Care

Self-care has been a much-discussed topic within the past few years. It can be defined as taking time for yourself and deliberately doing an activity to take care of our physical, emotional, and mental health. People are encouraged to set aside time each day, week, or month and indulge in a special activity, such as walking, reading a book, getting a facial, etc. However, there has been a discussion as to what self-care exactly means and looks like. To many people, self-care is a wonderful thing that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of, and I agree. No one is going to take better care of yourself than, well, yourself. Yet, it is also viewed as an indulgence, something out of the ordinary. But, have you ever thought maybe you are already practicing self-care every day?

In the past months, I saw a post on social media shared from a friend on Facebook from a wellness site, Nepenthe. The post stated: “self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job…or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.” As honestly brutal as it may be, it rings a bell. Self-care shouldn’t be things you get to do; it should be things you have to do to become a better version of yourself, no matter what.

Let’s start looking at self-care with another definition. These activities can become things we do in our daily lives to help ease the stress, ease the overwhelming sense that there is too much to do, and help us sleep better at night. For example, you may be stressing about organizing your closet and trying to get rid of old clothing for weeks. Turn this stress into self-care by creating a to-do list and accomplishing the task little by little. One day you may only have five items to get rid of – go ahead and send them to their next home before moving on. Self-care doesn’t have to be one large task every so often; break it down into little parts here and there.

Another favorite line of mine from the post is “true self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.” Be realistic and honest with yourself. Determine what priorities you want to have in your life and maybe make some sacrifices. If something gives you anxiety, deal with it, and move on the best you can. If something is hard to do, go ahead and just do it. Everyone has hard tasks in life to deal with but think about how good it feels when the hard tasks are completed. I know I feel better and more relaxed.

Self-care isn’t about treating yourself; it is about bettering yourself to achieve long-term wellness. Sometimes people think a spa day will “fix” them. Honestly, it will make you more relaxed, but your stressors will still be there. Make time each day to do something that will make you feel better and help you choose happiness. It can take only five minutes, or it can take several hours. Then, treat yourself to the scheduled self-care moments each month. Achieving and living self-care is maintaining balance and a combination of small and big activities.

The post closes with “…it means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good…It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.”

Can’t we all admit that is the type of life we want? Self-care is everyday care.




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