mental health

What Self Care Is and Is Not: A Pragmatic and Stoic Guide

I am a very pragmatic person who always stays on top of responsibilities no matter what is going on with me. I could be tired, burned out, a little down, but still keep a productive routine? Why? Following a structured routine that completes obligations is a form of self-care.

Self-care it is not entirely about indulging into whatever comes to mind. It is not spending a few days shirking responsibilities, eating comfort food, and watching television. You will probably regret it, then feel guilt. However, sometimes this is necessary for a few hours in the evening or in the quiet hours of the morning. It is recharging in that sense.

Mainly self-care is about attitude. It is a choice to see every moment as a great opportunity. Even if there is a challenge or an irksome task ahead of you, it could be an experience if you make it one. Self-care is incorporated because you are nourishing your mind and body with a stimulating activity. Doing the task can be a chance to practice being mindful, acting with purpose, and being productive. All of which a human needs to do in order to thrive.

I used to struggle with this. Previously my days of self-care would be wasting a weekend browsing online or playing video games. It is an easy thing to do when you have excuses. You can tell yourself that you deserve to do nothing after working hard all week, and that you should definitely eat that whole pizza because you are feeling deprived. How is that self-care? When you approach it pragmatically, it isn’t nourishing or stimulating your mind or body. There are no benefits. Quit the excuses.

Here’s a common situation. For example, you don’t want to do that job project or do your homework. What will happen if you don’t do it? You will fall behind and will later be scrambling to catch up. Self-care would be doing the project mindfully and use it as a learning experience. Preventing future problems is a pragmatic approach to self-care.

Another example is my gym routine. Sometimes I balk at going to the gym either because I am tired or feel like I don’t have time that morning. Well, exercise has been proven to increase energy levels and all it can take is a fifteen minute workout. Knowing all the benefits can make it be seen as self-care. You never regret a workout.

Before and after a busy day is when I engage in the stereotypical self-care. I do not act entitled to be lazy. Self-care for me would be working in my journal, reading, or pampering myself with a beauty routine. In the morning I would check social media for twenty minutes, followed by journaling, and eating a mindful pre-workout meal. When I get back from the gym I make my appearance nice. Then I am ready to really start the day because my morning was energizing. In the evening I soak and massage my feet while reading a book or take a bath in Epson salt if I got stressed. This is what I consider self-care that is not productive. Contrary, I am educating myself by reading a nonfiction book and taking care of my body.

Overall, here is a list of what self-care is not.

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  • Self-care is not avoiding responsibilities.  You know it will create more problems in the future and stress you out more than the amount you are stressed out now. Sit down and do it, or do it in blocks of time until it is complete. You will thank yourself later and build pride.
  • Self-care is not binge-eating. It is fine to have two scoops of peanut butter fudge Ben and Jerry’s, but no amount of saying you deserve it will counter the calories and feeling sick. It is mentally unhealthy to forever exclude junk food from your diet. However, you are never entitled enough to eat an absurd amount of junk. The self-care option would be a small amount of sweets, followed by a healthy meal to nourish your body. Food is for nourishment.
  • Self-care is not laying in bed all day. Your body is not meant to be confined to a bed for hours. Your complex and structurally amazing body has the ability to power you through the day and complete numerous tasks. Nourish and energize your body by being active. During your few scheduled hours of downtime you can recline back and relax. Just balance out movement with being still.
  • Self-care is not having an excessive amount of screen-time. It is so unhealthy to be glued to a screen all day. The world itself offers enough enrichment and amazement that a screen is not needed. Additionally, being too invested in social media and television shows is living vicariously through others and fictional plots. Just go out and explore the world.

 

 

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Now here what self-care is. In fact, here is a huge list.

  1. Engaging in a creative outlet. It is both productive and creating something beautiful.
  2. Reading or going out to get a library card. Try a self-help or a self-esteem book.
  3. Doing a bit of tidying to declutter your living space.
  4. Cooking a nourishing meal to last you a few days.
  5. Pampering your skin, as it part of general health-care
  6. Dying your hair the color you always wanted, or doing a hair mask by soaking it olive oil for an hour.
  7. Giving yourself a massage or soak your feet. This is especially important if you are an athlete.
  8. Exfoliate your skin. Make a DIY exfoliator by mixing coconut oil, sugar, and coffee grounds.
  9. Yoga or simply stretching.
  10. An indoor workout for at least fifteen minutes. It’s an energy booster at the very least.
  11. Going on a walk. If it is cold, bundle up. It’s only too cold if you aren’t dressed appropriately.
  12. Meditating. If you’ve never done it before, just focus on your breathing for two minutes.

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Do you notice the difference between what is self-care and what isn’t? The repeated message throughout this post is that self-care is nourishing your body in some way. You only get one body and one brain. Thus it’s best to treat it right.

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