Wait… That’s Self-care?
If you follow the Pinterest or Instagram portrait of self-care, you can get a very rosy picture of someone getting a massage, taking a fancy vacation, or doing a juice fast with a big smile on their face. There are many myths around self-care, even with growing interest and awareness of self-care to promote mental and physical well-being.
It’s time for us to repaint this picture and reclaim self-care as not exclusive or rare or expensive but an integral part of our daily routine.
Let’s start by debunking a few myths around self-care. There are more than three, but in the interest of our own self-care, we’re not going to cover them all (see Self-Care Idea #2).
Fact # 1: Self-care is NOT selfish.
There is a common analogy that mental health professionals make about self-care. On an airplane, flight attendants say put on your oxygen mask before helping your neighbor. This isn’t a selfish act; it’s designed to ensure everyone gets what they need. This principle is true for self-care. When we (especially those in caretaker roles like parents, nurses, teachers, bosses, etc.) do the regular maintenance to take care of ourselves, we can help those around us much more effectively and longer than if we are too tired, drained or sick.
Fact # 2: Self-care is NOT too _________ (fill in the blank)
The spa day image of self-care suggests that it takes lots of time and money to make it happen. But the actions that truly help us manage our mental health, regulate our emotions, and recharge are available to us all the time and most at no cost. The key to self-care is to find your personal recipe for success.
Fact # 3: Self-care is NOT doing anything that soothes you.
Self-care is many of the things that soothe the soul – think warm baths, chocolate, comfort food, TV reruns and long naps. The key is finding the balance between what “feels good” now and what supports your long-term mental and physical health. So, spending 10 minutes between meetings watching cat videos on YouTube (here’s a classic) may be self-care today. Skipping work or class every day to watch hours of cat videos won’t make you feel better.