Is there such a thing as “bad self-care”
I’m guessing you actually already know the answer and I’m going to tell you anyway.
But I’m going to tell you a story, first.
The photo above is of me, on an average Monday afternoon.
I am sitting in my car in the front seat, parked in the garage. My eyes are closed. I’m taking a breath.
On this particular Monday, this is my most boring and most essential moment of self-care of the day.
Let me explain.
Both of my kids were sick with some mucus-crud-adventure and I lost my voice the day before, so I’m also not feeling 100%.
It’s also a holiday, so my daughter is off from school.
We were supposed to hang out with friends today but plans changed, which is probably for the best since my kids were basically walking snot factories.
Instead of going out, we stayed in.
I tried to work while they played next to me all morning.
Then I took a break and played with them.
And then I let the Wild Kratts take over.
Still I was cranky. I wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted.
I felt gross.
I felt frustrated.
All I wanted to do was lie down and rest.
No. I wiggled and stretched and got up and moved around and then sat back down to try and work.
My body was calling out for self-care and I ignored it.
Hey, it happens to the best of us, right?
Finally we had no choice. The grocery store was calling.
Both kids were total monsters in the store.
It’s a relief we all made it home alive.
The nagging, the whining, the “I-told-you-so’s”, the crying, the singing the same line of the same song for 10 minutes straight was really starting to eat away at the few threads I was still hanging on by.
So I closed my eyes.
I sat like this for at least a minute.
I could still hear my kids swatting each other with balloons in the backseat.
I didn’t care.
I just sat and breathed and gave myself a minute.
It was enough to get me in the kids out of the car without yelling.
To get through the next 3 hours without falling apart.
Sometimes, 1 minute of essential self-care is worth all of the massages and face masks and kitchen dance parties and naps in the world.
I’m going to back up though to the most important part of the story:
“All I wanted to do was lie down and rest.
Did I? No.
My body was calling out for self-care and I ignored it.”
Here’s the thing about self-care that I think we all need to start getting real with.
Not all self-care is made equal.
Self-care is not one size fits all.
Doing something just because it’s your default self-care doesn’t actually mean it’s self-care in that moment.
That was the lesson I teach in my self-care reset on Day 1 and it’s the one I also relearned on this ordinary Monday.
Here’s the definition of self-care I like to work with:
Self-care is not only honestly listening to your body, but choosing to actually do what your body is asking for.
If my body is asking for rest, just because movement is the self-care I usually turn to when I need to feel good, that doesn’t mean that movement will actually make me feel good if my body is asking for the opposite.
This brings us back to the question “is there such a thing as bad self-care?
The answer is, no.
However, there is such a thing as not listening to yourself. Not honoring your what your body needs. And that can lead to self-care that isn’t particularly supportive or satisfying. Which defeats the purpose of self-care.