What is self-care?

What is self-care? I don’t know and I want to find out. Apparently a lack of self-care put me in a place vulnerable to burnout.

In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self[1].

While searching the net for guidance one may find surprising results. You’ll learn about wellness, taking relaxing baths, doing yoga, face masks … The longest time I really thought that that was self-care. Work from the outside and in the magic of life those things will patch up the hurting inside.

Self-care is individual, hence the word ‘self’. I found out that in mental health it means to manage your symptoms. In my experience it means mostly to lose. Due to burnout and depression I lost a lot of things. It was a full stop, a cleansing of my judgement.

Losing what doesn’t serve me. Words can be of an important guidance while thinking about mental health. Words without action don’t cut it. Self-care is a journey on the inside, a journey on its own. While recovering and un-covering yourself, you need to ‘get you’, grasp it, hold it, look at it like a kaleidoscope.

The first step would be to acknowledge that you are here and that you are the caregiver and receiver at the same time. That you are permitted to take your place in the world and that you too are worthy of love and happiness. All of that, no matter who you are, what you did in the past, who raised you and what you told yourself.

I’m starting to understand that what I thought of  ‘me’ isn’t the case. What I’ve internalized doesn’t stems from me but grew into me. I was fighting all of that, trying to deny it, to wipe it away, to clean it up. The battle became the purpose and  led to the neglect of the Self. It is like the movie ‘Life Of Pi’.

Self-care becomes to be attentive to what you need in the moment and to use that as your driving force. It is not a button you switch on when you feel like it and be done with it. It can’t be scheduled or forced. It needs to be like an endless stream before you’re surprised by the wave. It demands attention, divided attention to your needs, others and life. It is divided and all intertwined.

When you keep criticizing your kids, they don’t stop loving you. They stop loving themselves.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-care

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31 thoughts on “What is self-care?

    1. Self-accepting-care it would be than and it will reflect on the outside, I’m sure. I’m in the process of peeling the layers to see what to accept. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly! I think you normally learn also from your parents maybe but I missed that part. And taking a bath well … doesn’t solve all the problems 🙄
        Like I see on your chart there a different parts to self-care, that alone is something new for me (from the last months).
        Mindfulness that is a whole other game! I’ll write about that too but I can tell you I’m not a fan.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about it with getting a lot of negative feedback or suggestions I’ll never follow. My mind doesn’t allow me to peacefully meditate….but I’m OK with that.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Meditation isn’t for every mind. I think you need to be careful with recommendations. What if someone has PTSD? A good ‘teacher’ will help you, but the exercise will be to find one. You get negative feedback on your own opinion? I don’t have a post on it yet but one day I’ll write about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I do have PTSD, but more than that, my mind either goes 100 miles per hour or I detach. And yes, sometimes I take little digs at things and get negative feedback, not always in the comments section.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. That’s not very mindful eh of them 😉 Do they mail you? I never ever check my mail so that’s easy. When everybody likes what you do, you’re doing something wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yeah, it’s from email generally. Most email is positive, or looking for help, but since there are so few places to troll me, sometimes you just have to go straight to the source.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Directly to the bin with the trolls! Or very mindfully, that is an option too 😁
        I do believe in meditation and other things but not in mindfulness. It’s too weird for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great points. “Words without action don’t cut it. “….so true. I also can so relate that self-care isn’t a switch to turn on or off but it requires daily attention. I’m attempting to make it a daily practice, since I’ve lived the whole up and down swings.

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    1. You are your own point of stability actually. The world can go up and down and the mood also sometimes but still I hope (!) with practice we can establish some sort of a baseline. I seem to remember that you have some dogs? If so, walking and playing with them would be mine ‘almost number one’ activity of self-care. But it doesn’t solve everything of course. Very good that you’re trying to make self-care a daily thing, I believe it is needed on a daily basis.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve had a quiet day just working on my web app, thanks. It is almost complete but I’m stuck on something, have to think it through. But…good when there is no drama!
        It is funny but reading your post made me think of my daughter, who seems to practise nothing *but* self-care, to the point where everything is about her.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t think too much of self-care, when it becomes self-centred is a splendid thing either. Than you miss out on the joy of giving and caring for others.
        The web app, I’m so curious about it! Being stuck is part of the process I guess? Maybe some rosé can take your mind of things and then you’ll look at it later with another approach.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? There are a lot more people like me? Yeey! It makes me feel so helpless, like I can’t take even care of me. Now I’ve observed a lot of patients who are better at it than me. But the way is forward and I will get it someway. It is just so new to me to take care of me. Thank you for backing me up with science!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It does seem like a lot of self-care advice focuses on physical things, which I can see as an act of self-kindness since we often push or punish our bodies on a daily basis. However, I agree that self-care also has to start as a largely internal process. If you don’t see yourself as deserving of care, the nicest spa treatment in the world will not bring you joy. Instead, it may even bring up guilt if some part of you believes you aren’t supposed to have nice things. So first we have to open ourselves to our self-kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a beautiful comment and is maybe better than the post itself 🙂 Guilt is an important component for me, to know that you are deserving of (self)love is a big step. Self-kindness is something I am working on, or try to since it is something new to me. Thank you for your thoughts, I really appreciate them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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