Not Another Self-Care Idea List: Making the Choice to Care for Yourself
The internet is full of lists with coping skills and self-care ideas. From meditation to bubble baths to avocado toast to watching cat videos on youtube to healing crystals, pretty much every idea out there for how to stabilize your mood and your mental state has made it into someone’s blog post.
I’ve saved a lot of these lists on Pinterest and read even more. I’ve got my own personal favorites (also how I justify my coloring book addiction) and I know which ones don’t work for me.
You’d think at this point, with all these ideas tucked away in my skill set library, I’d have self-care down.
But I don’t. Not even close.
Why Lists Aren’t Enough
When I sat down to make this post, my original intention was to make yet another list of self-care ideas to continue the oversaturation. But I realized that I didn’t really have anything new to offer.
The “avocado toast for self-care” has become practically a joke at this point. I feel like I see tweets about how coloring doesn’t cure depression on the daily and that the people who make these lists don’t know what real anxiety is like. But the thing is, depression, anxiety, pain — they are all relative to your own life and experience.
What you do for self-care doesn’t matter. It’s that you do it and that you do it with the full-hearted belief that it will make a difference.
The purpose of all these methods and ideas is to ground yourself, to reconnect with your emotions, and allow you to begin to process the situation in a more healthy way. It doesn’t matter if it’s baking cookies or taking a bath or doing yoga or going for a walk or playing with your cat or whatever. It just has to be something that resonates with you. Something that is healthy, constructive, and positive. Something that works for you. But most importantly, something you’ll actually do.
Fighting Against Resistance
The hardest part for me though is that you have to believe that whatever you’re doing will help because if you don’t whatever overwhelming feeling your facing will win.
When overwhelming anxiety starts to cloud my thoughts, I’ll think “ok this is when I need to go pull out some of those skills.” But my initial reaction is to resist. To say “no this problem is too big, this feeling is too real, those won’t work.”
I think, if I can tame these feelings it’s admitting they weren’t as big a problem as I thought they were.
I end up choosing anxiety over peace because I’m trying to justify and rationalize my initial reaction.
This is when I try to talk to myself like I would a friend. I remind myself that fighting for that inner peace doesn’t mean my original feelings were invalid, and it doesn’t mean those feelings will just go away. It means that I’m recognizing, acknowledging, processing, and honoring those feelings. But I’m not giving them control.
The goal is to learn to respond, not to react. That’s the skill that all of these seemingly trivial coping skills are trying to help us learn.
No matter how much you want to cling to your anxiety as a badge of justification, the best feeling in the world is when you’ve talked yourself down off that cliff — the weight being lifted off your chest, a calm, clarity to your thoughts, and, most importantly, pride in your ability to take care of yourself.
Having the self-care skills to cope with negative emotions is incredibly important and ideas for ways to do that can be beyond helpful, especially if its a new concept to you. But they are only a small part of the equation. The real change comes from learning how to use them, learning how to fight through the negative voices in your head telling you it’s not worth the effort.
You have the strength and the power inside you to choose peace, to choose care, and to choose to fight. Whether it’s avocado toast or cat videos, find what works for you and believe fully in yourself and your capabilities to have control over your emotions.
How do you take care of yourself? In what ways do you struggle the most with self-care?