Today’s post will be short and sweet (I think), and it’ll be a little bit of a departure from the stuff I normally post.
“Self-care” has become such a buzzword in the beauty and health community that it’s now a tongue-in-cheek hashtag and a meme.
I’m glad that people are acknowledging that it’s important to take care of your physical AND mental health, but I also feel like the #selfcare movement has gotten a little out of hand, to the point where it’s starting to come full-circle and people are rejecting it because it’s becoming a blanket justification for making less-than-stellar choices.
But that’s a discussion for a different day.
What I actually want to do today is offer a different perspective on self-care that made it easier for me to do things for myself without feeling guilty.
Who Do You Belong To?
Maybe you’re single. Maybe your family sucks. Maybe you don’t have many friends, or maybe you feel pretty isolated. (I hope you don’t, and I’m sorry if you do! You’re not alone!)
Even if any or all of these things are true, you can still add this perspective to your mental filing system.
The basic idea is this: Treat yourself as though you are someone’s cherished belonging.
I don’t mean that you should think of yourself as an object or property. Instead, consider this. When you’re charged with taking care of something that is important to another person, you’re usually way more likely to go above and beyond to keep it in good condition.
If you’re house-sitting, you’re much more apt to make sure everything stays clean, organized and fresh than when you’re bumming around your own house. It’s a natural thing that pretty much everyone does.
From a self-care perspective, sometimes it’s helpful to think about taking care of yourself as though you are doing it for someone who cares about you. This could be a friend, a significant other, a child, a pet, the elderly lady on your street who always waves to you or even your roomful of house plants.
When you’re struggling with guilt, exhaustion, anxiety or feelings or worthlessness, it can be hard to put in the effort required to take care of your physical and mental health.
However, if you frame even the smallest acts of self-care as “I am taking the best possible care of myself because ::insert important person/pet:: cherishes me and would want me to be happy, content and healthy,” it can really work to give you that extra oomph of motivation or “permission” to do something indulgent.
(“Something indulgent” can literally be taking the time to microwave a hot meal instead of eating dry cereal, or it can be lighting that candle you’ve been “saving” for a special occasion. It can even be saying no to people who are making demands on your time. It doesn’t have to be buying your Amazon cart or eating half a cheesecake.)
Personal story time!
As a personal example, I really struggle with spending money on myself in any way, even if there’s something I absolutely need. I’m working on this, but sometimes I need to use my perspective shift to get me over the guilt and anxiety I feel about buying something, especially if it’s not (in my mind) “totally necessary.”
When I feel overwhelmed or guilty about spending money on, say, a yoga class or calligraphy supplies, I can stop and ask myself if my fiance would encourage me to do The Thing™ for myself. He’s an extremely rational and pragmatic person, so he would never encourage me to be frivolous. When I can frame something that’s objectively good for me in that way, it helps to take away enough of that unnecessary guilt that I can Do The Thing™.
(If you don’t have issues with money, obviously don’t use this as an excuse to justify shopping too much or overspending!)
Ideally, none of us would need to use this mental work-around to take care of ourselves, but we’re messed up humans who aren’t always in ideal situations, and I don’t think there’s any shame in having tools like these to trick our brains into doing good things for us.
How Do You #SelfCare?
Hokey buzzwordiness aside, making the choice to take control of your own physical, mental and spiritual (if you’re into that) health is super important.
There are lots of mental tools and tricks you can use to get yourself started down that path, and the more you can explore the reasons behind what’s preventing you from taking care of yourself, the less you’ll find that you need to rely on these “self-care crutches” to make good choices for your own well-being.
Tell me about your perspective on self-care! I’m always interested in hearing about others’ experiences.