You have probably heard about self-care, maybe in the context of a company on Instagram persuading you to shop till you drop or the dessert section of Peirce calling out your name as you walk past. As awareness has risen about mental health issues in the past decade, so has the popularity of participating in self-care activities.
Sadly, when we speak of self-care, we often limit our understanding of this concept to activities which we enjoy. In most cases, we practice self-care by buying into an industry whose primary aim is to max out our credit cards by bringing us immediate comfort in their products; instead of helping address the root causes of our struggles. This is not to say that these activities or purchases are not worthwhile or cannot be used effectively as an outlet to better our mental health. I simply fear that in an attempt to practice self-care, we often overlook the concept of self-accountability.
As it is with everything, it is possible to overdo self-care activities. It is also possible for self-care activities to leave us worse off than we intended. For example, binge-watching The Witcher on Friday night when you have a 10-page paper due on Sunday is not self-care. Candidly, it might be self-sabotage.
Self-accountability is a form of self-care we should all practice more deliberately. Self-care has to go beyond just the physical or emotional; it should encompass honest reflections of ways in which we may be failing ourselves. To truly practice self-care is to be self disciplined. It is knowing when we can genuinely do better and taking steps to be better. Mind you, this form of self-care is not comfortable. It is difficult and trust me, no one has mastered it.
I have not come to ask you to remove self-care activities from your weekly schedule. I do not possess such power. I am simply asking you to be more mindful of which activities you classify as self-care.
I think it is self-care to do your homework on time, it is self-care to visit your friend who you have not seen in Peirce for a while and by all means it is self-care to stick to a budget.
I know we are already in February and the “New Year, New Me” feeling is already wearing off, but it is never too late to make changes. We can all practice better self-care by asking these questions: What purpose does this activity serve? Does this activity help reduce my anxiety in whatever capacity? Is this activity a mask for procrastination? And finally, could I practice self-care in another, more beneficial way?