As we age, it’s easy to surrender to default behavior patterns. At least this has been true for me. To counter this tendency, medical and mental health professionals recommend self-care. Of course, we recognize that this does not mean do it yourself dentistry, or weekend home surgery. Self-care means that we need to take better care
When considering personal self-care, it’s important to be skeptical of ourselves and enabling by Madison Avenue. There are numerous people and websites that would have us believe that self-care equals self-indulgence. They promote the idea that buying designer dark chocolates, regular chilling at a chic spa, or purchasing 10,000 thread count bed sheets are self-care.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong about a little self-indulgence once in awhile as long as we can financially afford these luxuries. A little self-indulgence goes a long way. When self-indulgence becomes a habit, it’s easy to forget real self-care.
Life is stressful, why not self-medicate with a bag of Doritos and a few beers? We can tell when we’ve slipped into self-indulgence when what we do is avoidance of disciplined effort and substitution with easy, feel-good antidotes. When compulsively reading self-help websites and books counts as self-care, it’s time to pause and be honest with ourselves.
My physician says that self-care is choosing to balance the effects of physical and emotional stress by developing actual good habits. Helpful self-care means eating moderate portions of healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising, and paying attention to our inner lives with meditation or mentally letting go, plus abstaining from substance abuse.
Self-care doesn’t mean living a mean, Spartan lifestyle either. It is important to balance discipline with creative leisure time activities. Soak away your troubles in a bubble bath. De-stress by taking a pleasant stroll outdoors, or read a book by your favorite author.
We already know these things. I only bring them up as reminders to you and to myself. It’s important to remember the differences between self-indulgence and self-care.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders some pithy wisdom from writer Ray Bradbury. “Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others, move forward with it.”