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Self-Care Isn’t Always Fun

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.

Anna is currently a senior at UMKC studying Health Sciences and Public Health, with a goal of working in the nonprofit world. Anna's passion is advocating for people living with chronic illnesses through her work with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. In her free time, Anna can be found obsessing over Panic! at the Disco and Queen while drinking coffee and watching romantic comedies or listening to podcasts.
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