As I sit here with a herniated disc and pain in my right leg that I would not wish upon my worst enemy, I can’t help but think about self care and how I ended up here. Self care is shoved down our throats as yet another thing that we have to master but look perfect natural at tackling with little to no effort. The mixed messaging leaves me feeling judged and I find it overwhelming and exhausting. Is it possible that we can do self care wrong? I am going to answer for myself – Yes.
Before I get into how, I’d first like to dive into social media. I was born in the early 80s, lived without the internet and a computer, yet some people (including my mother) love to slap that millennial label right in the middle of my forehead. I refuse to accept it. My childhood, filled with manhunt in the streets on summer nights and made up games of puzzle rafts in the living room clearly means, by my own logic, that I am not in fact a millennial. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I have allowed social media to infiltrate and influence my life as someone on the 40 side of 30. This post is not meant as a diatribe on the reason social media is evil. It is simple a tool in which our/my messages are delivered and received so therefore it must be discussed.
I think social media can and has done a lot of good. It has connected us to people, ideas, social issues and places that we may not have ever experienced otherwise. It spreads positive messages of change and is a powerful forum to unite. I’ve spent some time this year de-cluttering my feed, removing accounts that either don’t make me feel good about myself or whose messaging does not align with my beliefs and morals. Even with this cleans and planned breaks, I find I still get caught in its ugly web of lies.
I appreciate how it has helped de-stigmatize mental health issues. It’s ok to not be ok. What a relief! I don’t have to pretend to be in a good mood. I don’t have to put on a smile. I don’t have to live in a cloud of fake positivity when I was up all night with a bout of anxiety. But that’s not really true is it? Its ok if I’m not ok but only if I’m being positive about it. Your reaction to situations determines your happiness so don’t overreact and only react in a positive way. I do believe that reaction is everything. I can let a situation destroy me or I can accept it and move on, but where is the real authenticity of the situation before I’m able to put a positivity spin on it? Isn’t that really “not being ok”?
I feel this way about the self care movement and how this is portrayed by the many influencers (who I forget are much younger than me) that fill our feeds. Find your purpose. Live your truth. Say no. Say yes to things that scare you. Throw out diets and enjoy the donut. Each green juice and drink less alcohol. Enjoy movement. Face masks. Jade rollers. Puppies. Sleep. Lots of sleep. Get an oil diffuser and a Himalayan salt lamp. See a therapist. Meditate and practice gratitude. CBD oil and ice baths. Breathing exercises.
I believe in many of those items and practices. I think “no” is the most powerful word. I love face masks, donuts and vegetables. Exercise makes me feel alive and is the best part of my day. Gratitude and acceptance has been a blessing for me this year. I get to bed early, I drink a lot of water, and I even use an oil diffuser. A jade roller and a bottle of face oil later, I’ve finally realized a few things:
I will never have the dewey skin I so desperately crave
I need to take more breaks to detox from my phone
Most ironically, I’ve missed the most vital point of self care – I didn’t listen to my body.
So what is self care? Giving yourself grace, resting when you need to, doing things that bring you joy and throwing out what does not.