As with all posts on mental health I add this warning. I am not a mental health professional. My posts on the subject come from my own experience. I implore people to seek professional help if they need it, and to always do research on a subject before taking anyone’s word as final. I think that sharing our experiences and thoughts on mental health is important, but needs to be one of many steps.
I am a person with ranging mental health issues and a user of the internet. I love my social media, used to be an avid user of tumblr, and waste probably more than average time on the internet. I see a lot of posts, blogs, comics, and various things dealing with the idea of self care. Like most mental health posts you find on the internet they sort of walk a dangerous line. The problem is rarely are these posts actually from mental health care professionals. It’s the internet, they are from just people. The posts range in suggestions, but seem to lean a certain way. Most of them talk about long baths, eating chocolate, spending all day with netflix, things of that nature. Now these can be a version of self care, but more often than not are not the reality of it.
We all need days that we indulge ourselves, I won’t pretend otherwise. Not only that but sometimes a little indulgence in something we like is important. However, that is just scratching the surface of self care, and if you do it too often can actually be harmful.
Eating healthy, exercising, forcing yourself out of the house to face the world, forcing yourself to work, cleaning your house, cleaning yourself, reaching out to people even when it’s hard to talk, and all other manner of productive things are also self care, and often what a lot of people need. The problem with boiling self care down to “I am going to drink tea, watch movies, and eat junk food” is that those habits are not healthy if you do it too often. If you are already isolating yourself then further isolation is not self care. If you are already eating badly indulging in your favorite bad foods is not really self care. If you haven’t gotten out of your house and moved around then avoiding doing so is not self care. Yes, we need tea, chocolate, and netflix days, but we need more days of being productive, doing things that maybe make us a little uncomfortable, taking more steps in the right direction.
Also seeking help is self care. If you find yourself needing more and more self care then reach out. Find a therapist, talk to family and friends, get help. Wrapping yourself in a blanket is not going to bring you out of a hole if things are extremely bad.
So share the drawings of the fun self care, but also share articles about getting out there self care. Give yourself days where you indulge a bit, but give yourself days where you challenge yourself. Make sure to do all the different acts of taking care of yourself.