One of the things I wanted to focus on this year was self-care. As a Type A perfectionist, I have a tendency to forget about my own needs and only pay any attention to them when I’m in full on meltdown mode. I wanted to change. I decided to make self-care a priority, to really listen to what I needed, and then to allow myself to have it.
Except, what I wanted was… coffee.
When I started to feel stressed out and I checked in with myself to see what would help, the answer was loud and clear: coffee.
I was confused, and then I felt guilty. People don’t drink COFFEE as a form of self-care. Coffee is CAFFEINE. Limiting caffeine is on every list of self-care practices ever written. GREEN JUICE. That’s what I need. A nice glass of green juice.
Except I didn’t want green juice. I wanted coffee. I needed coffee. My self-care instincts were screaming COFFEE.
Each time it happened, I felt guilty. Instead of feeling serene and rejuvenated, the feeling self-care practice are supposed to leave you with, I felt like a failure for not being the kind of person who prefers to unwind with liquefied kale.
Lately, self-care has started to seem like a moral issue instead of a personal one.
Suddenly, certain things we do in the name of self-care are considered “bad” or “wrong”, while others are culturally endorsed as “positive” and “enriching.”
Instead of asking, “what do I need to feel better?”, we’re asking “what socially acceptable form of self-care would make me feel better?”
Here’s the thing: self-care doesn’t come in a one size fits all package.
It looks different for different people on different days in different seasons of our lives. There’s no universal list of activities that work for everyone, all of the time.
Because of the moralization of self-care, it’s easy to think that if you’re not practicing yoga or making a gratitude list then your self-care regimen is somehow wrong.
And that’s just not true.
You need certain things at certain times.
Some days, I do need yoga. But some days, I need a Netflix marathon. That’s the reality of life. That’s the reality of self-care. It’s not always Pinterest Perfect.
If I know deep down in my bones that I need a caramel frappuccino with extra whip to make it through this meeting, and then I resent myself for needing a sugar and caffeine concoction instead of a green juice, I’m not practicing self-care. I’m beating myself up.
Like life, when it comes to self-care, there is no right or wrong way to do it. If you’re checking in with yourself and honoring your truth in that particular moment, then you’re practicing self-care. Even if it doesn’t look like self-care. Even if it doesn’t involve exercise or crafts or a perception shift. Even if it looks an awful lot like breaking down.
Give yourself permission to honor your own needs in a way that looks and feels right for you, even if it doesn’t look or feel right to others.
Embrace your uniqueness. Cut yourself some slack. Take ownership of your health. And give others the freedom to do the same.
And as a fun bonus, be sure to check out this 30 Day Self-Care Challenge!