Everybody defines self-care differently, but are some indulgences more harmful than helpful?
The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board
What is self-care?
Whether it’s hanging out with friends, going on a shopping spree, or binge-watching our favorite Netflix show, we each have our own means of rebuilding our inner stability. However, these indulgences can also hinder our well-being when they become excuses to avoid our responsibilities.
Instead of putting our obligations on hold, self-care is actually meant to address them head-on. It may mean starting a project early to avoid feeling regretful and overwhelmed as the deadline approaches or choosing not to fall into habits of napping and binge-eating. Although our preferred pastimes are valid and often necessary forms of short-term rehabilitation, we risk losing sight of long-term goals or damaging our overall health when we indulge without mediation. Real self-care isn’t just about relaxing in the moment but also about taking measures to ensure that our future selves feel at ease too.
Productive self-care doesn’t have to mean finishing assignments or studying for tests; it can be doing your laundry, going to the gym, or organizing your binders, for example. Many of us think that self-care is about the materialist aspects of bubble baths and chocolate, but at the end of the day, caring for yourself means prioritizing your well-being above such temporary amenities. Equating self-care with guilty pleasures leads to the flawed belief that whenever we experience some kind of stress or difficulty, we deserve to do something “bad,” like binging on junk food or watching movies all day. However, self-care can actually be skipping out on the short-term enjoyment of these guilty pleasures and eliminating the latent stress we all often feel.
It isn’t easy deciding whether to put our minds or bodies to work when we’re attempting to practice self-care, nor is it a good idea — sometimes indulging in guilty pleasures for short-term relief is what we need to get ourselves through the day or week. However, in the long term, productive self care has more benefits — fewer tasks to complete later, more enjoyable events to look forward to, and a fulfilling sense of accomplishment.. By understanding the necessity of balanced self-care, we can treat ourselves to more healthy personal growth. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, instead of watching movies all day, perhaps re-decorate your room, categorize your Google Drive documents, concoct your own smoothie creation, or practice your instrument — something that will improve the well-being of future you.
Graphic by Web Editor Gregory Wu