It's work. You have to put effort into it. You have to be intentional. You have to, dare I say it, take a break from what you think you need to do and do the annoying thing that is self-care.
But, I would argue, what you actually need IS self-care.
Don't close the webpage yet, hear me out.
There is a persistent stereotype that self-care is face masks and spa treatments. It's extravagant, costly, and time-consuming.
That's so not true. It's just a stereotype and one that is doing the idea of self-care a lot of harm.
Self-care is anything that gives you a time to focus on what you want to do. It's putting down the textbooks, homework, or other chores and giving yourself time to relax.
This could be taking a bike ride, drawing in a sketchbook, taking your dog for a walk, taking a bath/shower, reading a book, lying outside in an Eno, lighting a candle and journaling, doing yoga, watching the clouds... It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is something that allows you to recharge.
And self-care is SUPER necessary.
In today's world, there is so much emphasis on being busy. It's seen as a good thing if you are so busy you sleep only five hours a night. It's almost a competition to see who has the least amount of free time. Who was at the library the latest? Who is taking the most credits? Who has the most exams this week?
If you are a person doing, you are more valuable.
If you are a person doing, you are more admired.
If you are a person doing, you are succeeding.
But, what is so wrong with being a person being.
Self-care, in a subtle way, challenges the pervasive ideology of constant action. It allows one to just be, instead of do. And, for some people, self-care is still active. But it is a different kind of activity. It isn't compulsory, society-satisfying work action. It is self-fulfilling, recharging, personal, necessary.
Self-care helps prevent burn-out.
Self-care helps stop the monotonous routine of everyday life.
Self-care helps you care... about yourself.
In addition to our preoccupation with doing, we often neglect to pay attention to ourselves. To be a person focusing solely on others makes you selfless, right?
Not so much.
It is true that helping others is a great thing to do, don't get me wrong. But, as I have hard many times in my life, "you cannot pour from an empty cup." If you spend all your energy on others, you eventually run out. If you spend some of your energy on yourself, you generate more. You support YOU so you can support others.
Self-care isn't selfish, it's self-full.
Be your best friend first. It's hard, I know. But it's necessary. Challenge the idea that to be a person doing is more important than a person being. Challenge the idea of selfishness. Embrace the notion of self-full.
Take some time, put in some effort, and care for you.
Self-care sucks, but you should do it anyway.