I know that headline might make you pause, but I’m trying to be as honest as I can. I believe in self-care and I would really like to implement it more into my life. But after doing some scouring of the Internet to get to the root of what this buzzword means, I was left feeling a little empty.
There are tons of articles about how this term took off everywhere from NPR to The Guardian, but I decided to get more specific definitions from my buddies at Psych Central. And that’s what led me to this conclusion: as much as I want to, I don’t practice self-care. But in researching this, I’ve figured out why.
There might be many ways to define ‘self-care’ but here are two main definitions I’d like to break down that I read on the Internet. Self-care is:
- Any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
- Doing what makes you feel good.
Now here’s the thing. You can do both of these things at the same time, that’s entirely possible. But I think that where I go wrong is focusing on the second definition – doing what makes me feel good – and ignoring the first one.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. I do the things that make me feel good and set other things aside. I don’t have a set routine in my life, so I just pick up things to do here and there. Do I do things to take care of my mental, emotional and physical health? Sometimes. But it’s not a holistic decision – it just happens.
Self-care is about being deliberate, conscientious and purposeful in taking care of ourselves – not just doing something that makes us happy at the moment because we feel we deserve it. It’s an active choice, it can’t just be something that happens. And that’s where I think I fall short.
Another thing to remember is that self-care is unique to every person. What works for you might not work for someone else; we all have our own personalities that respond to different things. You can try something that you’ve read or seen that’s ‘worked wonders’ for someone but don’t put too much pressure on it. I say that because when I see something work for someone, I feel bad that it doesn’t work the same way for me. I forget to focus on myself because I’m so worried about being part of the trend.
I’d like to practice self-care more. But that will require some trial and error, figuring out what’s best for me and being very deliberate about some of the things I do. That might sound like any other day for some people but when you don’t have that mindset it’s hard to get into. But I do feel better, having a clearer definition of what this ‘self-care’ thing is all about.