Since summer, #selfcare has been turning up a lot on my Instagram feed. It’s an idea that’s actually incredibly old but seems to have really taken off in the mental health community over the last year. I’ve known people who suffer from eating disorders, depression and other conditions talk about it as a way to cope on a day-to-day basis. I’ve also seen it being used by people on the fringes, e.g. me, refer to self care as the way that they survive the days when they want to stay in bed. So far, so good. It all seems like the concept of self care is a positive step forward.
Unfortunately, as with all ideas that become more widely known, self care is open to abuse. Namely, using it as an excuse for a little bit of self indulgence. So what is the difference between self care and self indulgence? Self care is not just about looking after your mental health but also your physical and emotional health. Most importantly, it should have a positive impact on you in the short term and hopefully long term.
Self indulgence, in contrast, takes something good to the point where it starts to have a negative impact. For example, you might find that the occasional chocolate bar is a fantastic pick-me-up on the bad days. However, if you find that the occasional chocolate bar becomes daily or twice-daily, you might have slipped into self indulgence territory. You might also find that you start to put on a few pounds or have a skin break out? Something good has ended up having negative results. Spending time at the gym and exercising is another form of self care (yes, I’m serious) but if it’s all you think about, are you indulging or caring for yourself?
So how do tell when you have slipped from self care in to self indulgence? It can be really hard to spot so my advice would be to switch it up from time to time. I’ve just bought a House of Night colouring book. I have paints, pastels and pencils for creative moments. Browse my selection of movies, books and music. Spending an hour or two at the gym. Going for a walk with my iPod. These are a few of the ways I like to practice “self care. If you’re not sure where to start, pick something you enjoy doing and go from there. It really is that simple! Or try one of Blurt’s Buddy Boxes. These are basically a hug in box designed to give anyone a pick me up. I haven’t ordered one yet but I definitely intend to be sending one to a friend and myself soon.
However, self care is not a cure but a preventative. As fantastic as it is for helping everyone from those just having a lousy day through to full depression, self care is not always enough to fully heal. If you do suspect or know you have a mental illness, please do not be ashamed. Instead, visit a doctor you trust and ask for some help. It took me over two years to ask for the help I desperately needed. When I got it, I was able to put my life together again. Self care is how I now keep my life on track but it was professional care that made that possible.
The post Self Care verses Self Indulgence first appeared on CounterCultural. CounterCouture.
If you live in the Somerset/Wiltshire area, I can recommend Wessex Counselling Service. They helped me a lot in putting my life back on track.