The Burden of Self-Care

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Self-care is the act of taking care of your well-being. Well-being has four dimensions - emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual. While most of us understand the importance of taking care of our mind, body and soul every day, practicing self-care is not easy. Most of us are busy, have stressful jobs, a family to care for, or are too consumed with technology to take time out to care for ourselves. What's worse, most of us are conditioned to feel guilty for taking time out for self-care. This guilt is compounded by social media portrayal of what self-care should look like.

On Instagram, #selfcaretips turns up plenty images of skincare products and skincare tips, sprinkled with some motivational quotes and few images urging one to get a good night's sleep, exercise, eat healthy, and of course, drink water. While these activities are beneficial, it is not beneficial to recommend this to all without assessment. Moreover, this portrayal of "perfect self-care" perpetrates the idea that one is not practicing true self-care if they are not incorporating these activities.

In truth, there is no "should" or "must" in self-care. Self-care is highly subjective and personal. To some, self-care might mean cutting off a toxic friend or relative; to another, a few drops of lavender oil in the diffuser. The end-goal is to feel happy and cared for by yourself.

How to engage in self-care?

Once you release the burden of an ideal self-care, you remove the limitations imposed by media. This leaves you open to understand and assess your own care needs and proceed from there. A good starting point is a thorough assessment of your needs and structuring a plan that is suited to your lifestyle and your individual needs.

  1. Assess your feelings around taking time for yourself. Does this bring up feelings of guilt, shame, anger? It can be tough to take time off to do things solely for yourself;

  2. Assess your feelings around non-doing or doing things that are deemed unproductive. Being "unproductive" is often looked down upon and can be an uncomfortable;

  3. Consider taking the help of a coach or therapist in this journey;

  4. Assess your current level of well-being [here is a simple quiz to get you started];

  5. List your care needs in the following categories:

  6. Physical

  7. Emotional

  8. Psychological

  9. Spiritual

  10. Relationships

  11. Workplace

Be practical and rational in your plan - do not overload. Remember the goal here is to feel good and lighter. The best approach here is to take baby steps - add one little activity at a time and yourself time to absorb and get used to each activity before adding another.

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