For the past few years, self care has been a big thing for me. For most of my life, I have not looked after myself very well. I’ve had the poorest diet you can possibly imagine, I have abused alcohol, I have smoked, I didn’t give myself time off when I needed it, I didn’t exercise, I have remained in toxic and abusive friendships and relationships.

Thankfully, I eventually realised that enough is enough and began to take care of myself. Slowly but surely I am doing the things I need to do to look after myself: I don’t drink alone, I have quit smoking, I eat lots of fruit and veg, I exercise and get fresh air, I don’t associate with people who bring negativity into my life.

For me, these things work. They make me feel happy and healthy and leave me much more equipped to deal with the daily stresses and pressures life brings - however, I’ve had to follow a lot of poor self care advice to get to this point.

For a very long time, I would eat camembert cheese every other day, filling in the gaps with Domino’s pizza. I called it self care. I justified it because “I’m too tired to cook” or “life’s too short to eat healthy.”

I would stay in bed all day long. I wouldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t read, I wouldn’t watch TV, or even open up my laptop. I’d just stare blankly into space, mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone and sleep, sleep, sleep. But it’s OK, because “it’s what I needed. It’s self care.”

Except, a lot of the time self care is really quite the opposite. While staying in bed, eating takeaways and ignoring all your responsibilities can seem like the most gentle option to take a lot of the time, it isn’t always the most caring option to take.

At some point, I finally realised that self care looked a lot like a massive kick up the bum for me.

For me, self care is:
  • Crawling out of your bed and tumbling into the shower because you haven’t had one for four days and they can probably smell you next door by now
  •  Brushing your teeth while you’re in there
  • Walking to work even though you’ll be late because the exercise and fresh air is good for you and you need to keep your job
  • Using the stash of frozen vegetables you have because they’re already cut and ready to go for you - no excuses about it taking too much effort
  • Making the effort to speak to your family because despite what your stupid brain says , they do love and care about you and want to speak to you
  • Establishing a balance between genuinely needing a rest and ensuring essential tasks get done.
While there most certainly are times in my life where what I absolutely need most is to curl up on my sofa in a duvet and have a Pretty Little Liars marathon, the majority of the time, the best thing I can do for myself is something genuinely useful. Things that genuinely mean I am taking care of myself in the best way possible.

It’s time to stop hiding destructive behaviours under the guise of self care.