Why Self-Care is Easier Said than Done
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Hey Everyone! I am back with my final post on the Thriving in Online Learning series! If you haven't already read the other posts before this one, click here!
While the first two posts focused on tools to incorporate for remote learning, I wanted to take a different approach and discuss self-care and well-being.
Self-care: actively engaging in activities to optimize and improve one’s overall health and well-being. These activities are conscious steps that we take in our everyday lives in order to prioritize our mind, body and spirit. They feed us emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically etc.
“Make sure to practice self-care and take care of your mental health”, is a recurring phrase that I have heard and said MANY times throughout this transition towards remote learning. Now, I fully understand the sentiment behind these words. Spending an abnormal amount of time on the computer, while being confined to the house every day, is harmful for an individual. In addition, as students, being stripped from our school—considered a safe space for some—we need to engage in activities that benefit ourselves. However, I would be lying to y’all and myself if I said putting yourself first is easy.
Recently, I’ve dedicated to prioritizing myself before anything. The past few years, I have been through it and I wanted to take my life back in my own hands. So far, the journey has been eye-opening, multifaceted bringing several realizations. One of them being that: Self-care and mental wealth have challenges that make the phrase above complicated.
Social media is a huge determinant of how we view and interact with self-care. To put it plainly, social media glamourizes and simplifies self-care, boring it down as superficial and easily attainable. Through tropes (skincare, exercise, healthy eating, therapy etc.), self-care is reduced to activities that everyone is able to do. Additionally, more times than noticed, the activities mentioned are inaccessible and are expensive to continue on a long-term basis. On online, the external work from these tropes are portrayed beautifully online, however what is missing is the internal changes that occurs—whether positive or negative.
Self-care is an individual journey. The online realm fails to take into account that some of us may need more when it comes to our well-being, than what is currently presented.
Note: Social media is a place that tests our well-being and if used excessively is negative for our mental wealth. Re-assessing the relationship we have with social media along with self-care is imperative. Be critical.
As I mentioned before, self-care is a personal journey meaning that the activities we engage in are specifically curated, depending on what one needs to fulfill their mind, body and soul. Despite that, self-care is a privilege that is not afforded everyone.
The barriers to use adequate mental health resources and therapy is a common example. To illustrate, therapy is known as inaccessible and expensive. An individual’s socio-economic status could act as a barrier to receive this form of mental health. Even as a university student it is difficult to get access to these resources. While there are options to seek therapists and access resources on campus, these resources often have students waiting weeks/months at a time.
Moreover, The relationships we have with our friends and family members pose an obstacle to self-care. Specifically, if your upbringing involved seeking support from family and friends. While there is nothing wrong in confiding in the people around us, replacing this for therapy—especially if it is recommended—could result in boundaries issues with your relationships.
Self-care is complex and depending on the situation, it requires capital. Whether it is your status, identity, race, status etc., these can overlap and present themselves as obstacles.
The benefits reaped from taking care of your health are substantial. However, it is important to remember that self-care is complex and requires discipline from the individual. Taking back our body, mind and spirit into our own hands is not an easy task to do—especially when one is not used to prioritizing their well-being in the first place.
Throughout the series, I’ve mentioned that productivity is a driving factor in our society. Interestingly enough, self-care is a great way to improve productivity. BUT that is a reward and not a motivator for our well-being. It takes strength to do self-care for yourself and not for the sake of output.
This discipline also requires recognizing “bad habits” that we disguise under self-care. In certain cases, unhealthy coping mechanisms masquerade as self-care activities, which set out to do the reverse effect of what self-cares entail. Personally, I used to think that indulging— whether it was shows, movies, food—was self-care, not knowing that I was actually practicing avoidance. Self-care is challenging and requires you to constantly reflect on yourself—you have to do it for yourself and only yourself.
As students, it is imperative that we take measures to make sure the safety of our well-being. However, I want to stress that this shit AIN’T easy! Finding what works for your lifestyle; what you need emotionally, physically and mentally will be different from others. Additionally, access to mental health services is a privilege in itself. Do not feel discouraged, give yourself GRACE—even that is so much within itself.
I hope y'all enjoyed the final post from the series! Let me know in the comments below how you indulge in self-care!
Also, Like, comment and share this post. I’ll see y'all on the next one :)
Renee Shian xx