5 Misconceptions about self-care

This is heavily inspired by a Tumblr post I saw recently called "Self-Care For When You Hit Rock Bottom", and I have to give credit where credit is due before I continue. I'm sure as a blogger who wants to make my writing space on the internet attractive and appealing I'm guilty of playing into the problem of glamorizing self-care. While I love that it's become glamorous and trendy to give a damn about your personal wellbeing, it's got to be said that this isn't an accurate picture of real-life, everyday self-care. It's not even necessarily 100% accurate of my life, because while I share a lot here there are things I'm not comfortable spilling out on the internet.


But this post kind of indirectly called me out on my shit, and I balked at first but I appreciate the reality check. Also the information in it is EXTREMELY useful advice for self-care in the moments where we really desperately need it. Personally, I've always struggled to remember to take care of myself in the moments where I desperately need it. I've posted about small tips and tricks that have helped me out with this, but this post is exactly what I've been looking for. If you value my opinions at all, it's worth taking a look yourself.


So let's talk simply, and honestly about some of the realities of self-care.

Self-care isn’t always glamorous

via CreateHER Stock Imaging

Self-care does not always look like the #selfcare tag on Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram. It's not always the kind of thing you want to show people, or even talk about. It can be those things, and that's fun and beautiful and worth sharing but that's not an everyday thing. Sometimes self-care is peeling yourself out of bed after lying in it for days on end, it's realising you haven't taken care of your personal hygiene in, oh god who knows how long, and maybe brushing your teeth but not taking a shower because you can't quite face that yet but feeling proud because you've made progress. Sometimes self-care is crying, and never knowing when it's going to stop, and once it finally does you feel ragged and empty but you're lighter, and that's at least something.

Harmful behaviours don’t count



While going out for a drink with your friends is nice, is fun, and there's nothing harmful about maintaining good and healthy relationships, the act of drinking is not self-care and we should not present any different. I don't think it's self-care if you know what you're doing is bad for your mental and physical health. Of course, there's nothing wrong with allowing yourself to indulge in things that make you happy but you have to understand the difference between that and actively taking care of yourself. Choosing to wallow in your depression can feel good, warm and comforting but we know it's not a form of self-care because all it does is harm you mentally.

It's a little bit jarring to see people bowing to their vices, stumbling on their journey to a healthier body and mind, and calling it "self-care" when all the arduous work you've been doing quitting smoking or going to the gym or learning to budget is the actual self-care. I fall into this trap a lot, where I'll "treat" myself to unhealthy food or shopping to make myself feel better if I have a bad day, when a much healthier thing to do is work through those emotions, or give myself some time to scream and cry and fall apart so I can keep going with the rest of my day.


Self-care doesn’t always feel good


This leads on perfectly from the last point because in the same way that the things which feel good aren't always self-care, the things that feel uncomfortable or challenging can often be the most care you can give yourself. Self-care is crying, it's exercise, it's locking yourself in your room, screaming and punching your pillows until you pass out. It's eating healthy and allowing yourself a cheat day every now and then, but still maintaining control of the habit you're trying to break. It's standing in front of a mirror and looking for something that you like about yourself, damn it, even though just looking at yourself makes you feel sick. The point is you feel enriched in the long run, and it's not necessarily about instant gratification.


Meditation doesn't cure everything

For some people, meditation helps them with anger management. Personally, I'd laugh in someone's face if they told me to meditate when I'm feeling angry. I might punch someone in the face if they told me to meditate while I'm having a panic attack, because I need help NOW and not after weeks of practice. Yet still, I meditate because if a panic attack is me at a 20, meditation helps me move down from an eight to a two, it helps me sleep, and it helps me focus my thoughts, and through focusing my thoughts I'm able to understand myself more easily. It sounds crazy, because how could someone not understand themselves, but when your thoughts are nothing but jumbled, disorganised noises and intrusive thoughts it's hard to wade through all of that and figure out what is actually going on with yourself emotionally. That said, medication does a better job of that than meditation. Walks, exercise, writing, so many other things might work for you and that's fine. One size fits all doesn't work when it comes to mental health.


No one can dictate what your self-care looks like but you

My blog, tumblr posts, articles, think pieces, YouTube videos...all of it is suggestions, all of it is full of biases, and none of it is tailor made to you specifically. All of these avenues exist so you have options, different methods that you can mix and match until you find the things that work best for you. Most of all, if none of the things I talk about in my blog have ever worked for you I don't want that you to make you feel like you're beyond help. You just haven't found your coping method yet, and that's fine.

via CreateHER stock images

Jacqueline Atta-Hayford