I introduced a pretty simple definition of self-care last week. This week, it became clear to me that some of society’s definitions of self-care might be doing just the opposite thing. Often what is #hashtagged as self-care is really just an escape or numbing the unpleasant emotion or situation. I’ve even caught myself escaping over caring for my mental state in some moments this week.
Some highlights have been that I purchased a work out guide that is something brand new for me. I’m normally a yoga/dance/slow burn kind of gal, but this is more of what I think of when I say the word “working out.” So far, I’m liking it, and it’s super easy to incorporate into my day.
The low moment was imploding into survival mode Tuesday when the threenager came out in my normally precious toddler. I snapped, I watched TV, I did my best to ignore that I have 2 humans in my care.
NONE OF THAT WAS HELPFUL! (Well maybe the episode of Call the Midwife was a tiny bit helpful).
1) Self-care is NOT escaping life.
Overall, I did not practice self-care. I practiced escape, numbing, ignoring my life instead of living it. Self-care is not a glass of wine, chocolate, TV, video games, scrolling social media, or a bag of chips. Most of the time those things are escape buttons we use to run away from life. We do them, and the pressure is relieved for a moment. But the problem isn’t solved, and the load is often bigger than it was before.
On Tuesday, after the threenager refused to nap and the baby had woken up from his nap, I stormed into the living room, gave the baby a snack and immediately surfed through Netflix. I knew I was escaping. I knew it might backfire, but I no longer had energy to make a good choice. This one turned out to be okay. The threenager stayed in her room long enough and the baby stayed quiet enough for me to enjoy part of an episode. This calmed my frustration enough to try and be a decent parent again.
Fast forward to the afternoon sitting in a parking lot waiting for a drive-up order to be delivered: I had 2 screaming children in the car, and I decided to ignore them and scroll social media. They got more upset, screamed more frantically, and I got to add guilt to my frustration for how I was reacting. Facebook didn’t solve my problem; it made it worse.
Escaping life and indulging in something else will often simply numb our emotions. Numbing something doesn’t mean it goes away, it just means you don’t feel it for a while. the problem with numbing is that it doesn’t actually solve a problem. Escape simply kicks the can down the road.
Self-care is NOT an occasional use thing
An occasional visit to the gym or therapist can be good, but only in that moment. It’s the habitual use over time that gives tangible benefits that can last even when you’re out of the habit sometimes.
Self-care is the same way. When we cultivate a habit of it, we benefit from it when we need it most: in those moments of stress. What regular self-care does is: lower your mental load, lower your overall stress level, and keeps your body running in a calm state. So when a little bit of stress comes your way, say… a defiant toddler, you can roll with it instead of letting it steamroll you.
So I can’t have my chocolate anymore?
I know we all love our escape hatches. They’re good places to visit on occasion, but real self-care is learning what your body, mind, and spirit need to be well nourished and nurtured. Over the next few weeks we will look at mind, body, and spirit and what it means to take care of ourselves well.
I want you to be the happiest, healthiest, most you version of you. The world needs you, so why not show up as the best you?!?
To follow my September self-care journey head over to Instagram and follow @phoebekate
Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash
1 thought on “What Self-Care is NOT”
Absolutely love this! Thank you for such a brilliant insight on what self care actually is. I totally agree.