Is your Self Care just Fancy Self Sabotage?
Self care looks different for everyone – we’ve talked about that. For some people, self care looks like a shopping spree, and for others, it looks like a chill night in.
But there is a LOT of noise across the internet about what counts as self care, and how to do it right. The problem comes in, when you start assuming that what works for SOMEONE ELSE, will also automatically work for you. When you see that people are splurging on spending, or on vacations, and you make the assumption that that’s what will give you the serenity you’re seeking as well.
Because of this, sometimes we fall into self sabotage, instead of self care. And when we’re done with a task that is actually self sabotage disguised as self care, we don’t feel serene. We don’t feel better at all – most of the time, we feel more stressed than when we started the task to begin with.
What is self sabotage
Self sabotage is what it sounds like, mostly. But, it can be insidious, and it can hide in plain sight, so you may not even know that you’re doing it.
So what is it, exactly? Any task done or step taken that undermines your goals. It usually leads to long term stress, as well. If you remember the definition of self care from a few weeks ago, I’m sure you can see why this is essentially its antithesis. Self care is intended to LOWER stress, both in the short term, and the long term. And, it helps you achieve your goals in myriad ways.
You might be thinking, “but… if these are opposites… how might I be self sabotaging when I think I’m doing self care??”
That’s an easy question.
Self sabotage looks fun. It looks easy. It looks stress free. And it is! Or at least, it is WHILE you’re doing the thing. After you do the thing, however, is when the problem comes up. Because you realise that you’re further from your goals, further from completing tasks, and you’re more stressed than you were at the beginning.
What’s the mix up?
So how do we mix these two categories of activities up in our heads?
This is ALSO an easy question.
We see so, so many different methods of self care online. Everything from that shopping and vacationing that I mentioned, to working out, or lowering your workload at your job. And those self care activities might indeed be self care for the person talking about them. They might be helpful, and relaxing, and cause no long term stress as a result.
But that’s not the case for everyone, and for every activity. We have to examine the activity against our own personal preferences and goals, in order to determine whether we’re actually doing self care, or whether we’re sabotaging ourselves in the name of mental health.
For example, spending, for me, is stressful. Not always, and not on things that I need, but spending money on things that I don’t need, for the sake of buying them, give me stress during this time because right now I have some pretty specific financial goals I’m working toward.
So for me, it wouldn’t be self care to spend my hard earned cash on a new purse, because… well, I don’t need it, and it won’t help me continue reaching my goals. I might feel happy with my decision for a moment, but in the long term, it will cause more stress because I end up frustrated that I’m not reaching my goals at the rate I would be had I *not* made that purchase.
Another fabulous example is bingeing shows. It feels really, really nice to just straight up binge watch some Netflix. And I do that. I think everyone does from time to time. But before I binge, I ask myself: Is this an activity that will get me closer to my goals?
Okay but like, does Netflix EVER get you closer to a goal?
Girl, YES. Sometimes, binge-watching DOES get us closer to our goals. Sometimes we NEED to empty our minds before we can continue with our work. Sometimes we need that time to ourselves, and it’s important. But there’s a difference between doing that in time that we truly have available for self care, that we’ve set aside intentionally, and blindly opening Netflix when we have tasks that are assigned to that time.
There is a big difference between procrastination, and taking time for self care.
So the next time you’re going to make a choice about a self care activity you want to do… ask yourself: Will this cause more stress for me in the long term? Am I choosing this because I want to, or because I saw someone else do it? Am I procrastinating? Do I have *time* to procrastinate?