Sometimes I wish someone would just roll me into the literal body shop and get me a self-care tune-up. Alas, it doesn’t work that way.
I’ve stopped using the term “self-care” to describe a lot of the things I do for myself. Hear me out, though. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with calling it self-care; it’s just that a lot of self-care tasks are not as flowery and gentle as the term implies. Sometimes you have to buckle up and make that phone call you’ve been avoiding so that your dentist doesn’t think you dropped off the face of the planet. (And so that you can get your teeth cleaned, I guess.)
I’ve found that reframing some self-care tasks as “corporeal maintenance” helps me tackle them with less procrastination. Something about approaching these tasks as simply maintenance and upkeep feels less daunting.
Here are some examples:
“Oh, my ‘check hydration tank’ light is on. Better go drink some water.”
“Didn’t I just go grocery shopping, like…oh, yeah, I guess it’s been a while. I should probably get some fuel for this week.”
If I call it “self-care,” I’m likely to not do it – either because I don’t care, or because I don’t feel worthy of being cared for. But, if you want to keep driving to the things you do care about, you have to get the oil changed every once in a while.
There’s a lot of talk about self-care these days; some criticize it and some embrace it whole-heartedly. There tends to be an atmosphere of self-indulgence when we discuss it; as if every act of caring for ourselves is rooted in all-encompassing positivity. And yes, self-care can be self-indulgent and rooted in self-love. Those things are necessary. But self-care is also doing the things that aren’t very fun but are kind of non-negotiable when it comes to being healthy.
It may very well be the case that you do complete these tasks out of self-love, and I think that’s great. In fact, that seems like a wonderful goal to work towards. But if you’re not there yet, and calling those unpleasant/boring tasks “self-care” feels insincere, go ahead and call them something else. Whatever floats your goat.