Why Really Understanding Self-Care Today Is More Important Than Ever

Do you take care of yourself?


You may have noticed: “self-care” seems to be one of the buzzwords this year. Which brings us back to a third question – did you manage to answer both the questions above? If you did, you could be on the right track of taking care of yourself. But oftentimes, many people think that they do take care of themselves, only to realise that at “how”, they don’t really know. Or maybe, you do several things you label as “self-care”, but you emerge from these activities not feeling any better, or that it doesn’t last. Depression and several other (mental) health issues are also becoming more prevalent, and one of the contributing factors could be that we simply neglect to take care of ourselves.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care can encompass a wide range of things, and people view it differently. Some view self-care as a continuum with health care experts on the other end, whereas some view it as a multidimensional construct. Self-care essentially is taking care of yourself in all aspects, and ensuring that you are able to function properly and healthily from day to day. Plenty of us know how to take care of our physical body pretty well because it’s tangible and therefore “easier”, but our mental and emotional health may be lacking. Now, whenever “self-care” is mentioned, it most often refers to things you do that make you feel good – like a recharge – thereby taking care of your mental and emotional health. Not wrong, but also not entirely correct.

"Self-care". Illustrations by Paru Ramesh
Image Credit: genderit.org

What Went Wrong With Self-Care?

Well, it looks like people view self-care as a last resort, or an escape, when things get too much. Have you experienced it yourself, or seen it with your friends or family? “Wah, I cannot already, I’m eating that cake; going away for the weekend; buying that pair of shoes.” We’re definitely not saying don’t do these things, because you can and you should, but not as an attempt to make yourself better temporarily. These are just a small part of “self-care”, and a largely misunderstood one at that, when self-care should be an integral part of your routine. And people think that self-care is about bubble baths and champagne and getaways, when in reality, things can get ugly.

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The Ugly Side Of Self-Care

Self-care takes discipline, hard work and tough choices. It requires you to perhaps break free of a lifestyle you’ve been living your whole life. It’s about making informed choices that aren’t always easy and convenient. Cooking healthy meals. Cutting back on snacks you love. Setting up an exercise routine you follow – not to lose weight, but to stay active. It’s drawing up a financial plan and sticking to it. It’s cutting people out of your life when they turn toxic. Occasionally, it’s letting some people down because you put yourself first – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Once in a while, it’s detaching yourself from the world to spend time with yourself, to know yourself. It’s picking yourself up after each fall. Having a strategy for what comes next. Heck, it’s even about having a good sleep schedule, because how many of us have that? Self-care is more than doing a few things for instant gratification and obtaining temporary reprieve. Self-care is such a “thing” today simply because we have forgotten to take care of ourselves properly, and that’s an issue.

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What Can I Do To “Self-Care”?

Start small. Have a target for what’s most pressing, or what you want to change the most. Sit down and draw up a plan about how you want to make it work. A few things that perhaps you may want to change is your sleep schedule, your screen time and food choices just to start off with. Break free from the society-introduced concept of self-care, of always treating yourself when times get tough; really take time to know yourself, accept yourself, and then better yourself. Set aside some time each day just for yourself to take a good look at how your life is unfolding. Be grateful. Be mindful. Take it slow, one thing at a time, and watch yourself transform into a healthier, happier, better person who no longer survives on procrastination and pressure. Remember, self-care isn’t a last resort you rush to when things are crashing down upon you and you can’t take it anymore. It’s about taking care of yourself everyday so things don’t crash.

Image Credit: self-odyssey.com

Back to why getting self-care right is important: because it’s the way to live well. Self-care isn’t a priority; it’s a necessity!