Self-care. Oh, the luxury of “having me time”–throwing a bath bomb into the tub, putting a face mask on, lighting some candles, playing some Sabrina Claudio, and eating a whole pint of Halo Top ice cream.
While that’s all fine and dandy, and nonetheless great ways to really relieve some stress (Lord knows I’m guilty of all of the above when I need a break), the truth behind self-care is that sometimes it’s not all about the fizzing bath bombs from Lush or the whole slice of chocolate cake that you devoured on what was not supposed to be your cheat day.
In fact, self-care can sometimes be a very unluxurious thing.
Sometimes it’s having to take a mental health day from work or school, and learning to accept that it’s okay to put your responsibilities on hold for a little bit if that will help you find your center. It is sitting down and calculating all your bills to make sure they’re getting paid on time, and that you have money to cover everything, without having to deal with debt later on.
Quite often, self-care is doing the things you don’t want to do, but have to do in order to benefit yourself; like telling a friend that their toxicity is no longer wanted in your life, or choosing your ideal career path although your family doesn’t approve of it, or sweating through another workout even though you feel like giving up, or turning down a night out with your friends to focus on the finals that you really should be studying for. Self-care is letting your pride down and apologizing for things you were in the wrong for in order to be the bigger person and accept your faults.
Sometimes it’s facing your failures and learning to re-strategize. It is having to learn that you can’t please everybody, and that the things you do with your life will inevitably disappoint some people. It means deleting those texts on your phone that you keep reading over and over and over, even though the words that were said hurt you. It is finally letting go of people and things that do not deserve a place in your life.
Self-care includes those nights of crying it all out, and having a mental breakdown because there’s so much on your plate. It includes putting your phone on Do Not Disturb when you need to be alone. It is writing down the way you feel when you need a means to express yourself. And sometimes self-care just means going the hell to bed after a long day.
It is letting yourself be normal and not forcing yourself to live up to whatever expectation you think other people have of you. Sometimes, it is having a messy room and deciding that your biggest goal isn’t trying to show people what you’re made of on Instagram. It is deciding that you are going to make a life for yourself that ultimately YOU are happy with. It is putting some goals on hold so you can focus on others. It is being honest even if what you have to say stirs people up. It is learning to love yourself, so that way you can love others to your fullest potential.
Because self-care shouldn’t be some type of strategy that lets us “run away” from our hectic lives. It is accepting that, yes, you do need a break sometimes, but that doesn’t mean your everyday life is something you need some sort of therapy to recover from. It is growing every day and learning new things about yourself and the person you’re becoming. It is realizing that bath bombs and face masks and lighting candles are great stress relievers and ways to enjoy life–not escape from it.