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Self-Care That’s Not Just Self-Indulgence

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Self-Care That’s Not Just Self-Indulgence

Self-care is often seen as an excuse for self-indulgence. Worse, it’s often used as an excuse for self-indulgence—in ways that can end up making us feel worse.

It’s a bit like dietary “cheat days”. If your diet needs cheat days, your diet probably isn’t right for you!

How to recognize the difference between self-care and self-indulgence?

Statistically, the majority of our subscribers are parents (whose children are now mostly grown up, but still, the point is that parenting experience has been gleaned), and/or are or have been caregivers of some form or other.

When a small child is ill, we (hopefully!) look after them carefully:

  • We don’t expect too much of them, but…
  • …we do expect them to adhere to things consistent with their recovery.

Critically: an important part of self-care is that it actually should be care.

Let’s spell something out: neglect is not care!

How this works for physical and mental health

If you overdo it in physical exercise, it’s right and correct to take a break to recover, and during that time, do things that will hasten one’s recovery. For example:

Overdone It? How To Speed Up Recovery After Exercise

But it’s well-known that if you just do nothing, your condition will likely deteriorate. Also, “a break to recover” is going to be as short as is necessary to recover. Then you’ll ease back into exercise, but you will get back to it.

For mental health it’s just the same. If we for whatever reason need to take a step back, it’s right and correct to do take a break to recover, and during that time, do things that will hasten one’s recovery.

Sometimes, if for example it’s just a case of burnout, rest is the best medicine, and even rest can be an active process. See for example:

How To Rest More Efficiently (Yes, Really)

So the question to ask, when it comes to self-care vs self-indulgence, is:

“Is this activity helping me to get better?”

Some examples:

Probably not great self-care activities:

  • Oversleeping (unless you were sleep-deprived, in which case, it’s better to get an earlier night than a later morning, if possible)
  • Overeating (comfort-eating is a thing, but your actual problems will still be there)
  • Mindless activities (mindless scrolling, TV-watching, game-playing, etc)

Probably better self-care activities:

  • Enjoyable physical activity (whatever that may be for you)
  • Preparing your favorite food, and then enjoying it mindfully
  • Engaging in a personal project that might not be that important, but it’s fulfilling to you (hobbies etc can fall into this category)
  • Scheduling some time, and committing some resources, to tackling whatever problem(s) you are facing that’s prompting you to need this self-care.
  • Doing the tasks you want to hide away from, but making them fun.

What’s your go-to self-care? We love to hear from you, so feel free to hit “reply” to this email, or use the handy feedback form at the bottom!

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