Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fake Self Care


Self care. It's the hot millennial thing now, according to countless articles and think pieces. Some of them will talk about how silly it is, but honestly I'm a huge believer in self care. I think it's really important and one of the things that has helped me when dealing with grief, depression, and anxiety. However, for a long time, I was doing what I call "fake self care". 

I wasn't taking care of myself, but I thought I was. It was like I was doing all these things in the guise of self care but they were not really "caring" things that helped me. I was drinking all the wine after work and eating my feelings (food is a big emotional comfort to me) and never doing anything active. I was crying on the way home from work thinking that everything wrong was external. My job sucked, my mom was dead, I was depressed, I was having panic attacks, I was gaining weight. Through all of this I was still buying these 3 packs of cookies at Walmart (700 calories for all 3 of them) and eating multiple packs a day. I was secretly eating Taco Bell or stopping for food on my way home from work and then still eating a big dinner. I was taking long baths and sleeping more and taking "mental health days" from work. None of it was working. 

It wasn't until I was actually taking care of myself that I noticed how destructive my behaviors were and how I was chalking it all up to practicing self care. I was using the phrase "self care" as a way to justify eating junk all the time and not working out. I've been tracking my calories and working out consistently for about 6 weeks now. I run in the dark after work (and occasionally in the morning but I'm not a morning person so that's rare). I drink more water and less alcohol. I still indulge in sweets but not as often and if I do, I log it in MyFitnessPal. I practice daily gratitude and have started confronting things I ignore (I also like to ignore my problems. Who knew that was also an unhealthy mental behavior? *eye roll*). I have been in therapy for about 6 months now and it's literally changed my life. 

I still think things like wine and eating cookie dough with my sister while we watch The Bachelor can be a form of self care, but not when you do it every day. I've noticed how much better I feel when I stick to my routines and how off I feel when I don't run for 3 days in a row. I think there's a balance there that I wasn't doing before. For a long time, I felt so hopeless. I didn't know how to make things better, how to feel better. I realize now that it's taking one small step at a time and being consistent with it. I've learned to be more resilient, more driven, and more kind to myself.  This is what worked for me, I am in no way saying the same things will work for you. I know that for me I was being so dishonest with myself and indulging in a lot of negative self talk. Once I recognized this and made small tweaks, it made all the difference. 

At the beginning of the year, I could not have imagined I'd find myself on the other side (or at least closer to the other side). I didn't know how to not feel hopeless and worthless, but it all starts with me. The way I talk to myself and treat myself has changed. I feel so good approaching 31, like I'm finally getting where I want to be. I'm not there yet, but now that I've ditched the fake self care, I'm so much closer than I dreamed. 

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