Self-Care v's Self-Torture - which do you choose?
Updated: Jul 17, 2018
Self-care is such a broad subject, where do I begin?
Well for starters, it's undoubtedly a curious topic for many including myself.
I have so, so many people in my experience (friends, family and clients) who share with me the self-care and wellness tools they use in their quest for a healthier, happier and more connective existence during the short ride in this reality we call LIFE. Quite a lot of the time the reason behind them doing what they do, is because they 'feel they should do it' or 'that it'll be good for me' or even 'I saw it on TV/ Internet/ Google/ youtube/ celebrity Dr recommended it - so it really must be beneficial!
It doesn't matter how qualified someone is - I strongly urge you not to just take someone else's self-care recommendations and blindly undertake these activities if they do not bring enjoyment and ultimately make you regularly FEEL GOOD or BETTER on some level. Quite often we are unknowingly inflicting punishment on ourselves with activities we think are good for us, but reality is they really are not of much benefit.
Whoa! Stop the bus, let me get this straight - Jodie, are you saying we are consciously torturing ourselves with activities that are deemed 'good for us??!!'
Yes. Indeed I am!
Do you find yourself rushing to get to yoga class, but each week you get there you are more frazzled and stressed in your panic to arrive at class on time only to experience it takes you more than half of the class just to calm down and unwind?
Do you drink or eat certain perceived 'health foods' on a regular basis, because they are deemed 'good for you' but really despise the act of consuming them?
Do you have an outlet like going to the gym or engage in physical activity that 'makes you feel good'? Have you continued to go when you have an injury that you are well aware needs time to rest and recover but instead take the 'harden up approach' and actually make the injury worse and prolong rehabilitation?
When you feel under the weather with illness, do you possibly take the day off work to grant your body time to heal or are you so fixated on pushing through that it makes you feel worse and you end up sick for weeks or even months?
Hands up if any of the above sounds like you.
Well, in the past I have been guilty of committing not only all of the above scenarios, but plenty more and I can only speak for myself, but none of these sound like self-care to me.
This is a true self-care story that could be considered self-torture:
A dear friend shared with me a couple months back that she knows how good a long soak in the bath is for her on multiple levels, but every time she is in the bath she doesn't relax as she has so much guilt over using the volume of water she views is being wasted to fill the bath.
Now this is something that should be an enjoyable experience for her, but instead she turns it into a completely negative event by beating up and punishes herself with guilt.
My reply - simply stop taking baths. You are not only wasting your time, you are correct in your view that you are wasting water because you are not in the right positive mindset to enjoy and absorb the bathing experience for all of it's relaxing, restorative and nurturing benefits.
My philosophy these days is - don't just implement something for your health with the mindset of 'having to' or 'should do' or feel you 'need too'. In doing so there is always a level of resistance (negative vibe) you are projecting when you are doing anything other than 'wanting to' and this resistance will actually negate a good portion of the benefits you are wanting to achieve. Sometimes you can even end up worse off than you started!
Self-care comes in various forms, and will differ greatly between individuals so don't ever compare others self-care with your perception of what works for you.
It's such an individual experience - it shouldn't be judged. Just focus on YOU.
Self-care for me varies on so many levels and I'm now in a place to recognise what tools I need at any given time. Just because one may have suited me yesterday doesn't mean it will always be best fit the next time round, it's always in constant review as to how it feeds my soul and makes me feel.
Self-care for me includes and is not limited to: starting this blog, getting regular decent sleep, diffusing beautiful aromatic essential oils, long soaks in the bath, going for walks and purchasing turmeric lattes' from a local café, lighting lovely scented candles, yoga, allowing others to help me, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, foot soaks, consuming nourishing food, connecting with nature, getting regular massages and other therapies that bring me back to myself, time with family and friends, creative cooking, flower arranging, calling an old friend for a heart-to-heart, granting myself (without guilt) a dedicated day on Thursdays for 'self-care', keeping good uplifting company around me, turning my phone off at set times so that I just can BE without constant demand and interruption, having a lazy day in bed for the entire day and loosing myself in a good book (for the record the last time I did this was Anzac Day 2017, so well overdue on this one!), making a pot of herbal tea and actually taking the time to sit down and enjoy drinking it, getting 'grounded' out in my garden (planting, weeding or pruning, it doesn't matter), being in the moment and having gratitude for all that is.
So, this is my question to you - How does YOUR self-care FEEL to YOU?
If you are unsure if your chosen self-care activities are actually detrimental to your well-being, ask yourself - what is the reason for me doing it and am I enjoying it?
If you can't answer whole heartedly BECAUSE I WANT TO and YES I am enjoying it then perhaps now is a good time for you to re-assess and find alternative options that allow you to start enjoying and receiving the full benefits of your self-care activities.
Because simply put - self-care really is CARE for SELF and nothing else.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.