Spiritually Speaking: What Self-Care Is Not

Recently, I saw a meme on social media that read “Cancelling plans is OK. Staying home to cook is OK. Disappearing for a bit to get your life together is OK. Resurfacing in a foreign country 10 years later with a new name is OK. It’s called self-care.”

At first glance, I wanted to agree with those words. But something about them just didn’t sit well.

Does anyone else see how this mentality could potentially become destructive or in the very least, counter-productive?

I mean, a lot of that sounds like giving into an urge of irresponsibility and running from your problems. Am I right?

Let me start by saying this: the self-care trend has good intentions.

Society (emphasis on the female-kind) started recognizing the importance of taking care of ourselves. As wives, moms, grandmothers, and bosses, us gals are pretty busy! We devote great chunks of time toward caring for others.

Empty Paint Cans

And while this natural instinct is a beautiful thing, it can definitely be the culprit for lack of sleep, unhealthy amounts of stress buildup, and possibly even lack of nutrition for those of us who skip meals or only have time for fast food.

By now, we know an empty vessel cannot fill another vessel.

So, goodness yes, take care of yourself!

Eat properly. Get a good night’s rest. Say no to unnecessary tasks or plans if it means less of a burden to your mind or your time.

Surround yourself with those who actually care about you. Spend time with people who take care not to make your environment toxic.

These are all good things–in no way am I against that part of the self-care movement.

However, more and more I’m seeing images and catch-phrases like the one above come packaged under a label of self-care, when they truly fall under an entirely different category.

Let’s not confuse self-care with self-indulgence, or just plain selfishness.

For example, we can all agree scheduling time off work is good for us. But if this turns into repeatedly calling out “just because” we want a day to ourselves, are we always going to excuse that as self-care?

What if someone is too tired and doesn’t feel like doing dinner or the dishes one night and instead orders out or decides to take a bath and read? Sure, we all need a break sometimes. Chores will always be with us. However, if this becomes a habit, which then leads to a lifestyle, I don’t think this can fall in the self-care category anymore, either.

Fresh Juice

I mean, what if I didn’t feel like paying taxes, claiming I just couldn’t handle the stress? Would you be alright with me categorizing that as self-care, too?

Can someone’s compulsive spending habits and deep debt be justified because they say retail therapy is their form of self-care?

You see, this sort of thinking is quite the slippery slope.

If we allow ourselves to change our minds based on our temporary feelings, we’ll likely never get anywhere or get anything accomplished.

Even worse, I’m afraid if we continue to preach that responsibilities are totally worth shirking off, how reliable and accountable can we expect the generation after us to be?

Another concern I have with the self-care movement is that it can cause us to forget that one of the best ways to take care of ourselves is to love and nurture those around us.

For one, it always comes back around. For another, it’s a proven fact that giving gifts, donating our time, or showing others affection makes us, in turn, feel wonderfully warm inside.

On the contrary, giving into last-minute, event-cancelling impulses can send our subconscious the message that plans, and the people we made them with, are not all that important.

Self-care is not a lack of care for others. Caring for ourselves does not mean neglecting our duties or even our common sense.

If you make a commitment, you owe it to yourself to stand by it.

We owe it to ourselves to eat healthy and stay in shape. We owe it to ourselves to do hard things and overcome the stuff we don’t always enjoy, because the reward of rest thereafter is so much more worth it.

Of course we all deserve some me-time; we should definitely give ourselves a little grace.

But I think we should be careful not to weigh too heavy to one side and allow our judgment to be clouded by greed or laziness.

Moral of this post, you can’t believe every self-care meme you see on the internet, folks. Stay safe out there.

Also, take care of yourselves.