We hear the term self-care all the time. More often than not, we are probably joking about our lack of self-care, but something I see so often is a misunderstanding of what self-care really means. And let me tell you, when I finally realized its true meaning—woah. It was like a switch flipped. I was surprised at all of the self-care that I had been unintentionally doing in the past few weeks—because I didn’t realize what basic self-care was. Spoiler alert: It’s not just about bubble baths and ‘treating ourselves’.
On social media, I see tons of people labeling self-care as spending money on something they can’t afford but want to have—you know, “treat yo’ self”—or blowing off important responsibilities. But when we’re consistently doing these things and ignoring the fundamental things that we have to do to take care of ourselves, ‘self-care’ becomes destructive.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m all about treating yourself occasionally, because, hey, you do deserve it. And that still counts as self-care! But that’s just a very small part of it. There is a lot more to self-care that involves doing the things that we don’t want to do. It involves taking care of the things we’ve been putting off that might be eating at us every day and confronting our anxieties. It might mean finally facing that thing you’ve been dreading. I’ve been there recently (and cringed my way through it), but I have to say, it felt like I was finally taking a second to care for myself—not to mention, my mental health!
Maybe you’re wondering what kinds of things I’m talking about here. Hang with me for just a second, because the things I’m about to list will probably resonate with you in some way.
You might be pushing yourself into self-care debt if…
- You’re ignoring your finances or not being honest with yourself about what you can afford. Sometimes we just have to grit our teeth, sit down by yourself or with your partner, and hash some things out.
- You’ve been in a friendship for a while that isn’t productive or positive anymore. This one is so tough sometimes, but if there’s a friendship that has been causing you major stress or isn’t encouraging, it might be time to take a break from it. Taking an inventory on your personal relationships may sound harsh, but it is crucial if you think there are some relationships in your life that are doing more harm than good.
- Like the last one, social media might really be getting you down, whether it causes you self-doubt or you’re seeing too much negativity. It happens to all of us, but maybe you really could use a break.
- Maybe you’re needing to have an important conversation with your significant other but there’s something stopping you. Caring for yourself (and your relationship) means addressing the issue. And if it’s something you think you need help with—that’s what us therapists are for.
Here’s an important one! (HEY PARENTS: pay attention!)
- Maybe you just feel overwhelmed and truly don’t know where to turn for help. Maybe you’re feeling more anxious than usual, or your depressive thoughts are clouding your day. Maybe your kids seem out-of-control lately and you just don’t know what to do. There is help out there—for you and your kids. Finally seeking that help might be one of the hardest things to do but taking care of your mental health is FUNDAMENTAL to true self-care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We’ve all been there. Find a counselor that you feel like you can connect with and see what it’s like to take steps toward truly caring for yourself.
Let’s all take a deep breath…
Were any of these hard pills to swallow? If so, I can’t stress the benefit of simply taking baby steps toward true self-care. And I can’t say this enough—we all neglect important things sometimes. And sometimes we aren’t ready to face those things. If that’s you, you’re not alone. If you’re overwhelmed with life stressors and you can’t take on another task, then just take the bubble bath or treat yourself to a delicious meal. If you’re taking baby steps, you’re headed in the right direction!
Maybe this post made you realize you’re doing more self-care than you thought! Good for you! Either way, treat yourself to something small, and then get to work on the stuff that might be causing you to go into self-care debt.
Until next time,