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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.

My Experience

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.

 

Happy Self-Caring!

 

IDEAS

water, water, water, water

meditation

reading a book

colouring

painting

taking pictures

running

exercise

going on a walk

having coffee with a friend

quiet time in the morning

yoga

taking a lunch break

getting your nails done

joining a sports team

journaling

getting enough sleep

balanced diet

going to therapy

spending time with your pet

listening to music

playing an instrument

exploring your neighborhood

going outside

eating breakfast

buying flowers

facemask

bath

Starbucks 😉

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!

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