Self Care: What It Is And What It Isn’t
Self Help

Self Care: What It Is And What It Isn’t

Self Care: What It Is And What It Isn’t

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, sometimes we lose sight of the most important relationship we have – the one with ourselves. Amid the demands of work, other relationships, and various other challenges life throws at us, we forget to nurture ourselves. Self-care is of vital importance to maintain not only our physical but also emotional well-being. It has become a trend to discuss what are some nice things you can do for yourself in the name of self-care. There are myriad self-care tips on the internet.

From meditation and relaxing face masks to setting boundaries in relationships and taking a day off for your mental health, all are recommendations you can find on reels or Twitter threads. Although some of those are genuine self-care methods, the term has also been misused frequently to describe behaviour that is not okay as part of selfcare and confused with self-indulgence and selfishness. Some popular false notions of self-care can damage your relationships. Let’s look at what are some practices that are not real self-care:

1. Screen-sucking instead of real relaxation:

Self-care consists of getting proper rest. Popularly known as ‘me time’, at the end of a busy work day, is of utmost importance to our mental health. Taking a few hours to ourselves to relax, engage in our hobbies, cooling off by watching movies or TV shows, reading a book and getting adequate sleep at night are all part of it. However, some people take this idea of ‘me time’ to mean it is okay to lie in their bed for hours on end in front of a screen until they fall asleep. Popularly termed as “screen-sucking”, this a very unhealthy way of unwinding, and detrimental to your health.

Read more: what is digital detox?

2. Retail-Therapy and excessive wasteful spending:

Dressing in clothes that make you feel comfortable and express your identity counts as taking care of yourself. Spending time on your appearance so that you feel good and confident is good practice. On the other hand, mindlessly shopping for clothes that you probably don’t need, without any regard for your budget, is not self-care. Psychologists have called the idea of “retail therapy” a maladaptive coping mechanism, which can add more stress to your life later on, especially if you are worried about money.

3. Social Isolation in the name of boundaries:

We are all familiar with the importance of saying a firm ‘no’ to things you are not comfortable with. Sometimes, friends and families can dump their emotional baggage onto you and drag you into their sea of despair. Setting boundaries in relationships and preserving your mental peace is an important part of self-care. However, it is not true self-care to completely withdraw from any relationships in your life. It is just as important to be a reliable friend and family member. Helping your loved ones through a crisis is a part of life, and it might cost you important relationships if you isolate yourself from everyone around you.

4. Over-exercising and pushing your bodily limits:

Maintaining your physical health can give you a confidence boost, and make you feel good about yourself. Exercising and eating healthy food are important parts of caring for yourself. Working up a sweat through activities such as jogging, swimming, or cycling can trigger the release of mood-boosting neurochemicals. However, starving yourself, or pushing past your physical limits in the name of exercise is not self-care. Spending long hours in the gym obsessing over attaining a perfect body can be detrimental to your mental health. It is a bad practice to exercise out of guilt from eating even the tiniest snack.

Read: The Comparison of Mental Health and Physical Health

5. Putting yourself first at all times:

Self-care involves prioritising your needs. Sometimes, people around you might not be considerate of your time and health. In such circumstances, it is important to let them know that they cannot expect you to be available for them at all times. But it is not good to constantly put your preferences above others’ needs. Balance is the key. For example, flaking on plans you have made with friends can make you lose friendships. It is important to invest in your relationships.

6. Running away from difficult conversations:

As mentioned before, it is extremely important to establish boundaries. It is applicable in relationships as well as friendships. For example, a partner might constantly try to engage you in unnecessary fights which take a toll on your emotional well-being. It is important at times to refuse to participate in such a scenario. But, lying to your partner or telling them half-truths frequently, to escape a difficult conversation is not part of self-care.

7. Harbouring negative thoughts about your friends and family:

People often say, “You have every right to be angry at them”. Holding these negative emotions and grudges is seen as a part of self-care as long as they are justified. However, if a friend or a loved one has hurt you or wronged you, the real idea of self-care would be to gently confront them and express your feelings to them, in an attempt to resolve the issue. Even if justified, holding onto feelings of resentment, anger, and defensiveness is not self-care.

8. Overburdening yourself with the ideal self-care:

Self-care involves eating well, exercising, grooming ourselves, paying attention to our emotional and physical well-being, and more activities that make us feel relaxed and de-stressed. However, with the popularity of the phrase, there are many ideas of self-care afloat on the internet. Influencers show you hundreds of varieties of juices you can prepare or healthy diets you can follow and thousands of skincare products you can use. Celebrities post pictures of themselves in a spa or on a yacht taking a self-care day.

It is easy to get influenced by such self-care ideas and want to replicate them. But, not all kinds of self-care apply to everyone. You might try to incorporate all these changes in your life and instead of feeling good about yourself, you end up overwhelmed and overburdened by the pressure of keeping up with this ideal version of self-care. This is contrary to what it is supposed to mean. Therefore, you must remember that each person’s idea of self-care is unique, and you must stick to what makes you feel the best, even if it is a simple thing like putting on your favourite playlist and singing your heart out!

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