Edited by Tanmaya Ramprasad
How Do We Stop Feeling Guilty About Self-Care
In theory, we all know the importance of self-care. In fact, if you stop someone on the road and ask them, they can probably give you an elaborate five-step self-care routine. But much like everyone else, it is probably a plan that has never been fully realized.
Self-care, why does it have a swirl of guilt surrounding it? Why do we pack it up and put it away on the furthest shelf of our closet? Why do we treat it as an exquisite thing that can be only enjoyed on special occasions?
One of the reasons can be simply getting tangled up in the idea of self-care. Too often, we think self-care is a glamorous process only involving things that appeal to our aesthetic and is appropriate for an Instagram post. But self-care is so much more and can include the simplest things such as getting your required amount of sleep each night or having regular meals every day. How often have you stayed up trying to perfect your assignments, ignoring your sleep because otherwise “you would not be trying hard enough”? How many times have you skipped your meal during midterm season because every minute spent chewing and digesting food can be used for reviewing another chapter?
In an age when only the end goal is glorified and “hustling for the good life” is not just a caption but a mantra, it is easy to forget what a good life consists of. It is easy to schedule in that extra hour of work at the expense of our physical and mental wellbeing. And before we know it the ambition and drive taking us towards our success becomes a toxic trait responsible for the downward spiral of our health and wellbeing.
So how do we stop treating self-care as a luxury and how do we stop feeling guilty about taking care of ourselves?
- Think of this time as an investment.
By doing small things such as getting the required amount of sleep every night, staying hydrated throughout the day and eating regular meals every day, we are giving our body a chance to recharge and refresh. It is almost like charging our phones. We do not expect our devices to work without proper resources to recharge. If we can extend this humanity to our electronic devices, I think we should reconsider why we are not extending such a gesture to our bodies.
- Redefine “trying your best”.
Has it ever happened that you were trying to do your best and now it is the second day in a row you haven’t slept or eaten properly?
In order to not feel guilty about self-care, it is CRUCIAL we understand what trying our best means. Putting in our best effort does not come at the expense of ourselves. It means, we are doing whatever we can within our limits while ensuring we are doing enough to take care of ourselves. It is important to remind ourselves that using up our self-care time for work does not mean we are trying our best; it means we are EXCEEDING our limits. Our best effort should be a COMBINATION of self-care and work and not work at the expense of everything else.
- Think about the end goal from a different perspective.
Thinking about our end goal always helps us regain our motivation. We think about how our hard work is going to pay off. But when we are only working and paying little attention to our health and well-being, investing little time and energy in doing things we enjoy and ignoring interpersonal relationships, there is a great chance that the enjoyment from our future success will be short-lived.
Ask yourself, what is your end goal? How do you want to see yourself in a time when you are successful? Do you imagine it to be a time filled with visits to the doctor, a predicament unavoidable due to piled up cases of inattention to self? As mentioned before, self-care is an investment, and probably the most important one we can make in our lifetime.
Setting high goals and working towards achieving them is a great habit. But it is time we include a healthy body and mind in that list of achievements. The process of letting go of the guilt that comes with self-care can take some time. But with patience, you will be able to the see the change it brings to your life and know that is the only kind of guilt that is worthwhile.
And if you are still having trouble letting go of this guilt, let me convince you by telling you that some of the best inventions we enjoy today were once inspired from dreams. Starting from Google, the movie Inception, Edgar Alan Poe’s poems, Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory to the double Helix Structure of DNA (which by the way won James Watson a Noble Prize) – all were inspired ideas from dreams. So, the next time you are putting off sleep trying to cram for an assignment, think about what great life changing idea you can be missing out on.