I cannot even start counting the number of times i tell my patients you need to take better care of yourself. And I find myself saying this to mostly women for some reason. Women feel they need to take care of everyone else and always put themselves last. If you don’t care for yourself how can you take care of someone else?
Lately this got me thinking about what self care means to me, and how much I believe that self care is neither self indulgent nor a fluffy trend, but actually the act of doing the thing that makes you feel the way you want to when you are feeling most unwell and least like the person you know you want to be.
A slight validation for the rage I have found myself feeling so often when I see Instagram posts of people #selfcare-ing with filtered pictures of Lush bath bombs and Diptique candles next to a book on Hygee. (FYI no this isn’t an ad, but apparently #ad -ing when you’re #selfcare -ing is the done thing now)
The inner gremlin that sees these and wants to slightly scream something about not solving your mental health problems by a Boomerang of a unicorn coloured bath bomb.
I don’t scream, I just go off and fester about the adoption of the term ‘self-care’ and how it’s become another excuse for the internet to hashtag the living day lights out of something that can, if executed properly, keep many of us alive.
News flash: self-care isn’t a scented candle or a set up photograph of smoothie next to the latest handbag. (Although I do love my handbags as everyone who knows me knows. But thats an indulgence and not self care)
It isn’t just buying soft blankets to decorate your living room to make it look like a Scandinavian-inspired Pinterest board. It isn’t Snapchatting your bath.
In the darkest days of depression, self-care is in fact just eating a meal.
Feeling worthy enough to eat something more nutritious than Ritz crackers. How many of you ladies don’t feel worthy? Reply to this honestly!
It’s brushing your hair. It’s spending time looking in the mirror and getting ready, rather than your woefully low self esteem dictating you get ready using a hand mirror or just rushing past the mirror just to make sure your thong is underneath your clothes and not on top.
Damn, self care is just getting up and getting dressed . And not spending your days in between un-matching and moth eaten pyjamas.
It’s exercising because exercise releases the happy hormones in your mind that help you turn Monday into Tuesday.
It’s taking your medication. It’s having a routine, because routine helps you sleep and sleep keeps you sane.
Its getting out of a dead end relationship even though it means being alone for a while. Its appreciating what you have as opposed to what you do not have.
What’s self care for me when the fog descends?
Going to bed at 9 pm to help me rest, going to the gym so that I can clear my mind of the constant stream of worry for at least one hour a day and actually getting myself out of bed between that 0505 and 0510 window where sometimes the world feels far too much. Avoiding social media. Trying my hardest to stick to arrangements despite the fact that i just want to stay in bed.
It’s knowing what you need to do stop yourself slipping off of your edge and sliding towards the place we’ve all been, we all visit from time to time but the place we dread more than any other.
Self-care is a series of life altering steps that people have to take when they are their most unwell to help them feel worthy enough to keep on trucking.
Life Is not a hashtag.