I’ve been talking about buzzwords in these blogs a little bit, like mental health and suicide, but a buzzword I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is self-care. Self-care is everywhere these days, isn’t it? Everywhere you look there is a post on self-care – how to self-care, self-care routines, what is self-care, why is self-care important, and so on.
So here I am adding to the collection, but this word self-care has started to look differently to me recently.
Self-care first became evident in my life last year during a rather substantial depressive episode, and it ended up becoming quite dangerous for me during this time. I have never experienced an episode as big or as powerful as the one I was in for about 8 months last year. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I was missing work, missing classes, abusing my medications, and seeing my doctor two or three times a week. I had to drop classes and my will to live was gone. Needless to say, it was really bad. In the midst of this time the word self-care was introduced to me, and I loved it – to me it was yet another escape button for my life. Not leaving my bed all day became self-care because I needed rest; not eating anything but Tim Horton’s donuts for every single meal became self-care because I liked donuts. Do you see where I’m going with this?
I was unhealthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and I justified it by saying it was self-care. Now yes, I was suffering from major depression, so a large part of my unhealthiness was due to being sick but some of it was because I didn’t understand what self-care really meant.
As I got healthier and the episode was fading, self-care became something else to me. This past school year I took on a full course load again and was working more hours than I ever had. Self-care then became a face-mask on a Friday night and a bath whenever I would go back to my mom’s house. I thought this was what healthy thriving human beings who were taking care of themselves looked like – going, going, going, going, going, and taking 10 minutes for themselves once a week. It was when I noticed that I had had a migraine for 4 months and was feeling too tired to even shower that I thought maybe I should rethink the self-care plan. In this case self-care looked like quitting the job that was slowly destroying me and getting a gym membership. The migraine disappeared the morning after my last day.
Now this summer I am so lucky to be back at the job that helped heal me last summer, but I am in a new location that is much busier and much more intense, hence much more draining. The first couple weeks I thought self-care in this situation was coming home from work and spending my night in bed with a Starbucks. However after some further reflection on my nightly routine I realized that this wasn’t actually making me feel better, in fact it was kind of making me feel worse. Self-care is supposed to be recharging me, rejuvenating me, taking care of me. I am now in the process of changing up my routine. So far it includes getting to work a half an hour early so I can have time to transition and reflect, going for a run when I get home from work, designating time to write everyday, buying flowers every Sunday and yes, every Friday I still get myself Starbucks.
What does it even mean?
This new routine is very different from the binge eating, face-mask, and sleeping kind of self-care I had become accustomed to. When I started thinking about what self-care really meant I realized that I was missing the mark and in most cases I wasn’t caring for myself at all; I was actually usually harming myself. Sometimes self-care is going to mean doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do in the moment, like running. I would much rather be in my bed watching Grey’s Anatomy, but I know that I need to run to clear my mind and take care of my body, care for myself.
I’m not saying to ditch your face-masks and bath time; those are important things that I love and will always love. Maybe I’m totally alone in my self-care misconception and you’re all thinking I’m nuts. Whether you can identify with my struggle or not I challenge you this week to take a look at your self-care routine and see where maybe there can be some improvement or change, remembering that self-care is you caring for your self, your whole self, mind, body, and spirit.
water, water, water, water
reading a book
going on a walk
having coffee with a friend
quiet time in the morning
taking a lunch break
getting your nails done
joining a sports team
getting enough sleep
going to therapy
spending time with your pet
listening to music
playing an instrument
exploring your neighborhood
About Chelsea Moore
My name is Chelsea! I am in my third year of university studying Anthropology and Sociology. I started self harming when I was 15, had my first suicide attempt when I was 16, and that is when I was diagnosed with Depression. Since then my life has been about recovery, and throughout this journey writing has been my safe place. Throughout my journey I've learned that everyone has a story, and hurting together feels a lot better than hurting behind closed doors.I am passionate about bringing awareness to mental illness, and couldn't be more excited about this opportunity to write for Healthy Minds Canada!