In the last several years, social and popular media has become absolutely obsessed with the concept of self-care. Whether it’s “Self-Care Isn’t Selfish” or “Treat yo self,” our society has become completely inundated with reminders to put ourselves first from time to time. I love this. However, a lot of us have never really learned how to take care of ourselves in this way.
Take me for example. I’m the kind of gal that usually has a lot going on. I’m a full-time student, a part-time nanny and an all-the-time hobby and extracurricular enthusiast. I love my life, and I always make time for things I like (coffee shops, Netflix binges, etc.)
For the longest time, I thought that that was all there was to self-care— some light pampering, some “me time” and vegging out on the couch.
Here’s the thing: self-care sucks sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a nice face mask and a glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered. But how do you care for yourself when you’re overworked, overwhelmed and beyond burnt out?
Sometimes, my typical self-care routine doesn’t even scratch the surface of the care I really need. Sometimes, all I want to do at the end of a long day is come home, binge three hours of Criminal Minds and stuff my face with chips. But sometimes what I NEED is to come home, take a shower and go to bed early.
When I can start to feel my mental health declining, (still working on recognizing the signs) I know that it’s time to switch gears and listen to my body and mind. Will spending all my money online shopping really help, or do I need to dig a little deeper and treat the source of the problem? (Spoiler alert- online shopping doesn’t fix mental illness. I know, bummer.)
I am learning that self-care is not about what we WANT, but what we NEED for our physical and mental well-being. Instagram may advertise self-care as mani-pedis and massages, but for me, self-care has become going to bed early, moving my body every day and regular mental health check-ins.
So, yes, I still love a good self-care day full of splurges and spa treatments, but I know that the real work leads to real results: if I truly commit to taking care of my mind, body and soul, I will be healthier, happier and more cared-for in the end.