We’re told that ample time for self-care is a necessity of modern day life. After all, our busy schedules, early morning workouts, and hours in the office give us plenty of excuses to indulge in a little downtime! While rest is undoubtedly important, so is drawing the line with self-care. At the end of the day mud masks aren’t going to provide a detox from things that bother you on a deeper level, nor are they going to fulfill the ultimate desires of your heart.
Downtime is important, I get that. We’ve all heard some variation of the saying about not being able to pour from an empty cup, and there is truth to that. Taking a step back from the hustle of life is important for maintaining perspective and keeping in mind the purpose behind all your commitments, but uncapped hours of sheer laziness are neither fulfilling nor productive. Intentional or productive rest is possible too, and giving yourself a break doesn’t necessarily have to equate to binging Netflix for eight hours. Setting time limits on rest and relaxation helps ensure you make the most of the time you do set aside, and not let it slowly take over an entire evening or weekend.
Setting time limits on rest and relaxation helps ensure you make the most of the time you do set aside, and not let it slowly take over an entire evening or weekend.
With emails constantly popping up and all the latest news just a click away, it is so easy to delude ourselves into thinking we are really “resting.” We feel obligated to respond right away, to check just one more thing, and before we know it our rest has really become work. This seems to happen much more frequently when we’ve given ourselves endless amounts of time for “rest.” If you really need that recharge, set your phone down and stop thinking about your to-do list. If you need an hour, take the hour to fully decompress from what is stressing you out and be purposeful with what you do in that hour. Setting a time limit will help you make the most of the time you are giving to yourself without going overboard.
Scrolling is not self-care
Put. Down. The. Phone. I know self-care looks a little different for everyone, but I think I would be hard pressed to find a good justification that says aimless scrolling is a good way of caring for yourself. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first to tell you the myriad of negative ways social media causes us to compare ourselves to others, or how the over-inundation of opinions constantly being thrown at us over the internet aren’t actually beneficial. If the point of self-care is to be truly helpful and rejuvenating, we have to be honest about what really benefits to our lives. Social media and the internet certainly have their merits, but providing a means of self-care is not necessarily one of them. What are you really hoping to find through all that scrolling? Maybe some real self-care would seek to address those needs and determine how to meet them in the reality beyond your screen.
If the point of self-care is to be truly helpful and rejuvenating, we have to be honest about what really benefits to our lives.
Truly taking care of yourself
If self-care is supposed to help us in caring for ourselves, we have to really assess our needs. Although there are basic things that we need on a daily basis like food and rest, our ultimate needs are for relationships, love, and achievement…ironically the opposites of self-indulgence and isolation. We are made to love and be loved, rather than spend hours on end alone. We all need some time and space to gather our thoughts and recharge, yes, but our ultimate desires involve relationships with other people. Real joy comes from caring for and being cared for by others, and it is important to remember that time alone is not the only way to recharge. Often times a meaningful conversation or a kind gesture from a loved one can be just as invigorating as time alone.
Self-care is so much more candles and baths, it’s about addressing your needs as a whole person. Desiring to grow and better yourself is a form of self-care that is important too as people are intellectual, creative, emotional, and physical beings. As such, our needs extend far beyond just pleasant smells and relaxing feelings. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes rest as being essential but also emphasizes the need for relationship and achievement in order to bring true fulfillment. Limiting ourselves to beauty products to make ourselves feel complete leaves many of our needs completely unaddressed.
Limiting ourselves to beauty products to make ourselves feel complete leaves many of our needs completely unaddressed.
Caring for others
Let’s not forget that at the end of the day, being too wrapped up in ourselves is a dangerous and unfulfilling way to live. There is a reason they say “it is better to give than to receive” so often around Christmastime; it’s true. Speaking for myself, I know that as much as I love getting a new shirt or a gift card to my favorite restaurant, I love giving gifts to those I care about infinitely more. We are not meant to be alone, and we are not meant to be consumed completely by ourselves. Self-care has the potential to quickly become an excuse to worry only about ourselves and not the needs of others. This mentality does not make for successful relationships of any kind, nor will it provide the fulfillment your heart really desires.
Being too wrapped up in ourselves is a dangerous and unfulfilling way to live.
Care for others and rejuvenate them through your words of love and encouragement. Don’t allow yourself to get swallowed up in isolation, or the idea that self-care and endless indulgence are the same thing. Value yourself enough to address the needs of who you are as a whole person, not just as someone who is so simple as to have their deepest desires satiated with a massage.