On the whole as a society, when we think of the term, “self-care” we think of fuzzy blankets, tea, bubble baths, and string lights in our rooms. We tend to think of taking the day off from work or class, sleeping in, eating comfort food, maybe some meditating, and just letting ourselves rest for the day. That’s all well and good, but there comes a point where that is hurting you more than it’s helping you.
Self-care isn’t always pretty. It’s not always putting on a fuzzy bathrobe and drinking hot cocoa. When you go through a period of time when you’re struggling, and you’ve been putting off responsibilities at every turn, eventually you reach the point where blowing off said responsibilities is the exact opposite of self-care.
Loving yourself isn’t always pleasant. A huge part of loving yourself is doing things that your future self will thank you for. When it finally gets to be too much, and for the third day in a row you feel like you don’t have the physical strength to get out of bed, I promise you that you can. You can do it, and your future self, even the future self as close as tomorrow, will thank you for getting up, showering and putting on something besides the pajamas you’ve been wearing for a week.
Sometimes loving yourself means you have to force yourself to do the things that you’ve been dreading, or confront the issues that you’ve been too drained to address. The frilly image of self-care that everyone has in their heads is only conducive for a very specific spectrum of situations. But more often than not taking care of yourself means managing to drag yourself out of bed and doing your chores so you have clean clothes to wear and dishes to eat off of. It means making yourself go to the store so you have fresh food in the house to eat, because you know those leftovers are beginning to become questionable.
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like: it’s taking care of yourself. And that means you have to do the things necessary to give yourself a happy, healthy life. Which means yes, sometimes you have to treat yourself to a day where you turn your phone off and watch Netflix all day, but it also means that you need to get up, wash the sheets on your bed, take out the trash, and open the textbook that has been staring at you from your backpack for the last four days, because you have an assignment due tomorrow that you haven’t even looked at yet.
Struggling with stress, mental health issues, and just the overload of responsibilities that life can throw at us in general can be difficult to deal with and extremely overwhelming. And I am not writing this to diminish the fact that sometimes all you really need is a day where you don’t do anything. But you have to keep in the back of your mind that there is a balance to everything that you do and don’t do. Constantly deciding that, “not today” is the right answer will hurt your mental state more in the long-run. There comes a point when you need to make the active decision to do the not-so-fun parts of taking care of yourself. But more often than not, those are the most important parts.