This might come as a little bit of a surprise to all of you, but I gather a lot of insight and information from Twitter. I’m not sure how it became a thing for me, but lately, I find myself scrolling through, reading people’s takes on current events and life in general. The different opinions and outlooks that we all have FASCINATE me (and sometimes scare me).
A few weeks ago I was doing my thing on Twitter when I came across a thread about self-care. I didn’t know the writer of the thread, but from what I could gather, they had been studying abroad here in the US and had been presented with some upsetting views regarding what it means to practice self-care.
Given that I am someone who regularly preaches the importance of self-care, I dove into this person’s Twitter thread. What this person felt had been presented, was basically, as a human being, you can do anything, literally anything, for the sake of self-care. More specifically, you can ignore loved ones, you can close yourself off, you can avoid responsibility, and you can be inconsiderate and unkind, so long that you’re “taking care of yourself” in the process. This person felt very confused and overwhelmed as in their home country, they were taught to be more conscious of others and of community.
So of course, as someone who loves to take in content like this and find some teachable moments, I felt compelled to write a little more about what self-care is and what it isn’t. Because it seems that there’s some confusing messages out there, and I’m always here to clarify, when I’m able :).
I feel like the whole concept of “self-care” stemmed out of a society that never actually taught us how to prioritize and to even consider our own wants, desires, and needs. I can only really speak from what it’s like growing up in the US, but I can say for certain that the notion of caring for yourself, was never taught, at least in a formal sense. And so, we have lived in a society that exalts martyrdom over balance, extending beyond our limits in order to achieve, and overworking instead of taking pause.
The movement of self-care was to encourage people to simply consider themselves in the equation of their lives. We so often put everything and everyone in front of our own basic needs, and society is begging for us to care for ourselves just as we would care for others.
Here is where I think people get self-care wrong, and misconstrue it into something less pleasant: self-care doesn’t give you the permission to be a jerk. Caring for yourself doesn’t let you off the hook of simultaneously caring for others. Self-care shouldn’t be your excuse for isolation but rather, your foundation for community.
The whole point of self-care is to bring a semblance of balance back into life’s equation, not tip the scales in the opposite direction. We take care of ourselves, so that we can show up in an aligned and empowered way. We take care of ourselves so we can take care of those around us. We take care of ourselves so that we can live out the unique paths and purposes that we are all meant to live.
And the beautiful thing of self-care is you can define what that looks like for you. Self-care doesn’t have to be bubble baths and pedicures, but it can be if that works for you. Self-care for you doesn’t have to be quiet alone time like it is for me. Self-care practices are the choices that you cultivate that soothe your mind, body, and spirit, and leave you feeling filled up, so that you extend into the world in the wonderful ways that you are meant to shine.
In the spirit of redefining self-care, what does it mean to you?
I can’t wait to hear.
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org