Self-care can mean a lot of different things – it can mean taking the time out to watch some stuff on Netflix with friends, going out to lunch, taking a nap, going on a hike. In a time of uncertainty and stress, being able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally and making sure that you’re doing okay is important. As Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism,
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
I spent a long time believing that self-care strictly meant taking time from the world and that it meant watching hours of stuff on Netflix or taking a nap. And in a hyperactive world in which we’re encouraged to be busy all the time and not sleep enough, doing those things can be a vital part of someone’s self-care. At least in the United States, we glorify stress and taking the time out to not burnout is going to be important for anyone’s survival.
But for me, that’s not what I need to be doing to take care of myself. My depression often makes any sort of survival extremely difficult. With depression, I’m already sleeping a lot and watching television instead of doing the things I need to be doing. Laundry sits in piles of clean and unclean clothes on my floor; I’ll go days without showering; my diet is primarily microwavable meals or ones that are incredibly easy to make. The only reason I have clean dishes most of the time is because washing dishes is one of the few ways I know how to channel my anxiety.
- Why saying ‘no’ more is the self-care you really need but never tried – Essence, Hello Giggles
So self-care for me doesn’t involve taking time off. Instead, it’s quite the opposite and means actually taking care of myself by doing laundry and putting it away, taking a shower, cooking myself a healthy meal that doesn’t involve macaroni and cheese, and going to therapy. It means finding new hobbies and new things to do that bring joy into my life and bring me back into the world, even in the midst of a bad couple days.
I’m still learning how to take care of myself – my depression often makes any sort of survival extremely difficult and taking the time to do my own self-care is starting to be more of a priority. But my own care is going to look different from others selfcare because there’s no universal or right way to do self-care. The only essential part of self-care is that you’re doing something to take care of yourself in whatever way that looks like.