Surviving Life by Self-Soothing and Calling it Self-Care
I have had such a terrible day, I am just going to go home, hide under the covers, order an insane amount of takeout and watch television until I pass out.
Of course, days like this are completely valid, if they are few and far between, but has this become your regular weekly routine? Are you doing this more often than not? Maybe a couple of times a week or more? Could that money be spent more wisely? Perhaps to pay down that credit card bill that has remained at a minimum payment for months? Credit does not go away by paying the minimum balance, believe me.
What else are you ignoring by self-sabotaging like this? What about all the food in your fridge that is going bad? How do you feel every Sunday throwing away your rotten vegetables only to buy them all over again that evening, vowing to do better this coming week?
I have had such a terrible day, I am just going to go home, uncork a bottle of wine and do absolutely nothing at all.
How healthy is this decision? Sure, if this happens seasonally or less it is completely valid, but is this your regular? Are you regularly shirking your responsibilities because of a ‘bad day’ and drinking to ignore the pain?
How is sitting around drinking too much wine going to make you feel in the long run? How will you feel when you wake up, hungover, with a mountain of dishes staring at you from the kitchen sink, the dirty laundry peeking out from every corner of your room and your only concern is trying to figure out how to get an extension on the paper that is due today? You will feel worse than you did before your night of self-titled self-care.
If what you did in the name of self-care makes you feel worse, more detached from your life and increases your stress, then it was not an act of self-care.
Your night of self-soothing masked as self-care has actually worsened your life, not bettered it, thereby reinforcing that it was not self-care.
I have had such a terrible day, I am just going to go home and do nothing. Sorry, I am bailing on the yoga class, I know that it was important to you, but I simply cannot scrounge up the energy for it.
This is where self-soothing is glaringly not self-care, but for some reason, self-care seems to have morphed into what we want right now and not what is good for us in the long run.
Choosing to not go to that yoga class and run home is not the best choice. Sure, in the short term, it soothes your immediate need of not wanting to do anything, but the mental strength gained from a yoga class and how it makes you feel physically afterwards is much more beneficial to you in the long run.
Yoga is a great self-care solution to a bad day, an evening of doing nothing is not very therapeutic at all. Bailing on a friend you made a commitment to is not a commendable thing either. Sure, there are days or situations in which skipping an exercise class might be valid, but at the end of the day, working out is always the better choice than not.
The difference between self-soothing and self-care is that self-soothing keeps you exactly where you are, allowing you the ability to deflect, avoid or hide from your life, while self-care elevates you to a higher level, it makes you better in the short and long term.
When spending money you do not have, avoiding responsibilities which are significant, and hiding from life becomes your self-care routine you have fallen into a rut, which will take work to get out of.
- Self-care is meant to make you feel better, not worse
- Self-care is meant to make you a better version of yourself, staying stagnant is not self-care, staying stagnant is simply staying afloat
- Self-care is meant to make you love yourself more, not shirking who you are night after night
- Self-care is valuing long term growth over short term wants
Self-care is understanding that putting one hundred extra dollars onto your credit card bill this month, instead of burning it on takeout, is the better choice in the long run.
Self-care is acknowledging when that glass of wine a night has become the bottle that you are no longer making the right choice, you are making the short-term choice to self-sooth a pain you are not dealing with appropriately.
Self-care is knowing that skipping out on regular exercise is not the right decision in the long run because you know that it is the feeling after the class or run that we are meant to look forward to. It is also about forcing through the fatigue of life, it is being resilient enough to make the right choice, even when you do not feel like doing the right thing.
There is clearly room to self-soothe in life and value to it as well, but make sure you are not lying to yourself and calling it self-care. There is a time and a place in life for a greasy cheeseburger, fries and watching romantic comedies all day because you have had a bad day, but it cannot be the norm, it must be the exception to the norm.
For self-care to work, there has to be an 80/20 split. 80% of the time you are making the right decisions, the tough decisions, to take care of yourself. The other 20% of the time perhaps you are taking the self-soothing route, where you do not answer the phone for a night, take a personal day, or eat that piece (or pieces) of cake and cry a little.