The first time I heard the term “self-care” was in the months immediately after my separation. As I tried to navigate emotions and questions and answers and the guilt I was feelings at letting go of my marriage, friends and loved ones assured me that I needed a bubble bath, a few candles and a bottle of nail polish. They called it “self-care” and recommended a glass of wine to round it all out.
From there, self-care became a regular part of my life – an excuse, even, to pour a glass of wine and unwind in a half-lit bathroom in the heat and steam of a luscious bubble bath. I talked about self-care to my friends, to my doctor, to my therapist and everyone could agree on one thing: self-care is important.
But it’s so much more than we like to think it is.
Self-care isn’t always about indulging; in fact, it’s much less about the frou-frou and the luxury we want and much more about the tough stuff we need to do for ourselves. It’s more about slipping my feet into the stirrups in my gynaecologist’s office than it is about slipping them into the footbath at the spa, and yet I’d much rather have the pedicure than the PAP but only one of the two is likely to save my life.
Truly practising self-care, I’ve learned, doesn’t mean that I do what makes me happy in the moment but what makes me stronger, healthier and better in time. Sometimes it’s a salad or a smoothie when I’d rather eat bacon or fries; it’s a workout when the couch is calling or an early night when I wish I was out hitting the town with friends. It’s saying “no” when I need to, and saying “yes” when I have to; it’s doing the things I don’t necessarily want to do because it’s in my best interest, but it’s never not worth it.
There are times when self-care is a glass of wine and fuzzy socks with a bottle of nail polish and a cheesy Rom-Com, but my point is this:
Don’t make self-care the frou-frou thing we so often pretend it is and push it lower and lower down your list of important things to do.
Schedule that dentist appointment and book your yearly physical. Call your mother. Say you’re sorry. Forgive someone. Do what you must today to live how you want tomorrow, and don’t forget to give yourself a break.