I used to think self care was Starbucks and new shower gel. I used to think self care was putting a new fifty dollar pair of jeans on credit. I used to think it was letting myself have that extra drink on a night out. It was letting myself eat an entire bag of cheetos.
None of those things, or anything like them, are self love or self care. Self care is making yourself a full-balanced meal when you just want a hot pocket. It’s scheduling that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off. It’s finding a new job after being verbally abused by your boss the third time this week. It’s making sure you only spend money on things you need.
The last year of my life has been learning this. I fell into a life of “treat yourself,” and “YOLO” during college. I let myself deal with my anxiety by staying in bed and worrying all day which turned into depression. I told myself staying inside 24/7 was self care because it was helping my anxiety not to go outside. Guess what? My self care hurt me more than anything else did this year. My “self care” tactics made me feel so bad about myself after graduating college that I told myself I could never get a job without a Master’s degree and forced myself to go back and plunge myself into further debt. I did this all to “better myself,” “to take care of myself,” and “to invest in myself.” So I finally snapped out of it in January during my winter break. And here is what my self care really looked like:
– I found a local gynecologist and scheduled my first PAP smear at 21.
– I found a local GP and got an annual check-up.
– I decided to quit grad school.
– I started really looking at how much debt I was in and started a plan to get me out ASAP. Even if that means spending practically no more than I need to for a long time.
– I limited my caffeine intake and started drinking more water.
– I started to take my anxiety meds regularly.
– I began taking a multivitamin every morning.
– I started eating healthier.
– I stopped drinking any alchohol because alcoholism runs in my family and it makes me feel like crap anyway.
– I started exercising regularly.
– I started spending more time outdoors regularly.
– I began communicating better with my partner (telling them my expectations and what my needs are too).
– I started telling myself affirmations each day. They became my mantras and have since manifested.
– I started reading again.
– I started a blog for my creative outlet.
– I only accept a job when I felt comfortable and cared for by the company.
– I started watching ASMR to fall asleep faster, reduce the racing thoughts at night, and stay asleep longer.
I felt the need to write this because I still see so many people buy things they don’t need to “treat themselves.” I fell into the fake self care trap. But true self care is hard. It takes work and dedication and time. It’s practicing self control and perseverance.