Self-care is way too important a concept to relegate to the realm of manicures and long walks.
It’s true, if you’re emotionally drained, you won’t feel well — no matter how healthy you may be. And when your mental energy is depleted, it’s so much harder to do what you need to do. But the idea that you can’t be happy or healthy unless you’ve pampered yourself first? That bothers me to no end. I mean, it’s a pretty discouraging thought, when you’re legitimately too busy to find time in the day for a bubble bath.
Self-care is way too important a concept to relegate to the realm of manicures and long walks, as relaxing as they can be. It’s just too unrealistic for most of us, and worse, it sends the message that you can only take care of yourself if you have the time, money, and help to do so. Everyone else is out of luck.
That’s why I’ve been trying to remember that true self-care might be pretty boring. That’s a good thing! The phrase “boring self-care” was coined by occupational therapist Hannah Daisy, to get at the heart of what self-care ought to be about. She meant the phrase to be useful for people suffering from mental illness, who can be overwhelmed by even the thought of taking a shower, but it’s a good concept for all of us. She suggests things like “went outside,” or “cooked and ate a nourishing meal, got enough sleep, remembered to drink water,” and even “cleaned the toilet,” or “made the phone call I was putting off.”
Self-care means giving yourself what you need, and our needs aren’t always glamorous or Instagram worthy. Sometimes you just need to have a clean toilet, and it legitimately makes you feel more human. Sometimes you’ve been running around frantically, and it’s late afternoon by the time you remember you haven’t had anything to drink. Making that phone call so it’s not hanging over your head might make a huge difference in your stress levels. And honestly, taking a bubble bath while trying not to think about the phone call may not be as relaxing as it’s intended to be, either.
The usual model of self-care just tells us that we can’t be happy or healthy without taking an unrealistic amount of time treating ourselves. (I mean, “watch the sunrise,” really? Sounds exhausting!) In reality, it’s the littlest things that make the most difference. So let’s not forget the boring ways we can take care of ourselves. Self-care should be something everyone can do, but as long as we categorize it along with unrealistic or time-consuming “me time” activities, we’ll continue to neglect it.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?