Disclaimer: This post is my own opinion and is not intended to offend anyone or make anyone feel guilty for taking days off and giving in to self-care. It is merely to highlight that, at times, self-care is not what we think it is or what we even want self-care to be.
Have you ever seen those long posts on Tumblr about self-care? They go something like this: it’s okay to stay in bed, leave your laundry/dishes to pile up, eat whatever or don’t eat at all, watch shows all day to make yourself better, take long hot showers, neglect the world, your friends, your plans and just do whatever it takes to make you feel better.
You are putting yourself first, caring for yourself first. Well, it’s great, really. Because it is necessary for one, especially people suffering from mental illnesses, to have those days where they let go and need to just be with themselves, making themselves feel better, doing whatever is right for them.
But what about the other side of self-care? The one no one seems to talk about. The one no one seems to see or realize. Because sometimes, self-care isn’t about letting yourself go.
Sometimes, self-care is about forcing yourself to get out of bed, because it’s time to get things done. It’s about cleaning up the mess, clearing the clutter you’ve allowed to build with the excuse of ‘lazy days.’ It’s about finally cooking a proper meal because your body needs it and can’t survive on just chocolate bars, chips, pizza or even worse, nothing at all.
Sometimes, it’s calling up your mother and just talking to her for ten minutes because even though you hate her voice, it reminds you of home. Sometimes, it’s about finding little reasons to get through each hour, each day. Sometimes, it’s about forcing yourself out, even if it’s just taking a walk outside, in the sun, in the rain, in the cold, getting that whiff of fresh air into your lungs, making you feel your heart pumping. Sometimes, it’s about making plans and sticking to them, no matter how badly you want to go home, curl up under the cover and forget about the world. Sometimes, it is calling up a friend and opening up to them or actually sticking with a plan you agreed to. Sometimes it’s about talking to yourself, making your mind understand that you can do this, you can finish that assignment, you can go to the market and get what you need, you can go to work, you can go to school, it is okay if you mess up, it is okay if you are alone, you can wake up and make things work for you.
Even if you have to work extra hard, it is for you. Sometimes that’s what self-care is.
I feel like people tend to romanticize self-care these days. The hot showers, the “eat whatever you like,” the neglecting your work, your friends, your life. I admit I do those things too. I do, and that’s totally fine, but sometimes, enough is enough, and you’ve got to pick yourself up because up is the only way to go.
I recently went through a few really rough days. It was bad. I was sobbing, crying, feeling like absolute shit, and my depression was at an all-time high, my low thoughts were getting to me, my mind wouldn’t stop racing.
I really wanted to just, neglect the whole world, hide under my covers and gorge on chips and ice cream but then, even though it was not what I wanted because I had been here before and as great as it felt, giving myself the free pass of ignoring everything and solely focusing on myself through isolating myself. I had to do what was right for me, this time.
And this time, that meant getting my ass off my bed, dragging it for pilates, working extra hard during my session, finally cooking a proper meal at home for myself, listening to upbeat music, sitting down with my mother for a while, even though my room and solitude was what I wanted, and finally, writing this article.
Self-care is crucial. Taking time off to rejuvenate, looking after your soul, emotions, and thoughts is crucial. Giving yourself space to just breathe, to relax, and doing what you think would make you feel better, also extremely important, and if you need an extra few days, then take it for yourself but, it cannot always be that way.
Self-care can’t always be used that way because sometimes, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to fake it, you’ve got to get out of bed, you’ve got to meet deadlines, you’ve got to let people in, you’ve got to go places, you’ve got to keep up with life. Never feel guilty for giving into self-care, never. But sometimes, even though self-care is about putting you first, that does not always mean in a way that you would like.
And that’s the ugly truth.