Self-care. What is it AND what is it NOT? We may think of self-care as a lot of things but it’s important that we make a distinction between its realistic capabilities and its perceived mythical powers. Read on to find out its true nature and how it can really help.
What self-care IS:
It’s a practice. Like any practice, it has to be repeated consistently in order for it to work. Sure, a one-off 60-minute massage on your birthday might feel good: if you like massages you know they’re relaxing, they give you time for yourself and they may ease soreness or tension in the body. But it’s only truly self-care if it’s combined with other methods or activities the rest of the year. I’m not knocking massages or any kind of occasional treat but that’s just it- if it’s a special occasion it can be part of self-care but it’s not all of it.
Self-care is a tool. Just like an actual tool or instrument, when self-care is used it can be very helpful. When it’s not used (i.e. when you know what to do but you’re not doing it) then it just sits there in the toolbox. A tool is a device used to carry out a particular function, like self-care is a process performed to pay attention to what you need. Also, just like a tool is only part of a larger project, self-care is a piece of your mental, emotional and physical health.
What self-care IS NOT:
Self-care is not a magic trick. When done, there may be some immediate effects, i.e. relief or relaxation. However, don’t be surprised if these feelings are fleeting, especially if your idea of “self-care” is an every once in a blue moon kind of thing. Life’s stressors won’t go away with the snap of a finger nor will they disappear by soaking your feet in epsom salts.
It’s not a cure. We wish we could tell you that self-care can solve all your problems. It doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t help though. It’s more of a preventative measure- like exercising to reduce the risk of injury, eating nutritious foods to fend off disease, or vaccines to lessen the symptomatic impact of viruses (sound familiar?). It’s less the result of an experiment and more the scientific procedure itself- it’s a series of carefully calculated, patient, and strategic steps that lead you towards your goals.
Unfortunately, self-care isn’t like some fantasy or love story ending. However, self-care does create the opportunities or avenues for you to prosper and reach your maximum potential. It just has to be seen as such and treated as part of the long-term game, rather than one with immediate gratification. Although, I have to admit, if it was as simple and powerful as a touch of a button that would be pretty cool.
Catherine at Revive