In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.
I wanted to start with the concept of “self care is building a life you don’t want to escape”, which is really the idea that sparked this new series. A friend shared this on Instagram and a few days later, one of my favourite “influencers” shared it as well, calling it bullshit (which I’ll get to). However, it really resonated with me, so I wanted to share it with you today.
Let’s start with the woman who called it BS. If I remember correctly, her reasoning was that you never get there. You’ll never have a perfect life and self care can also be small things you do for yourself or routines that you create for yourself. There might always be something that you want to “escape”, no matter how big or small. So this concept could be seen as perpetuating the idea that some people have perfect lives, but you don’t and you never will.
I see her point and it’s valid, but I instead focused on the “ing” in “building”. To me, that implies continued work throughout your life. Kind of like how doctors practice medicine and lawyers practice law. Common sense says they’re practising for something, but in reality, they’ll never do more than practice. In this concept of building a life you don’t want to escape, I choose to see the building as continued work throughout your entire life. I’m not naive enough to think that you’ll one day arrive at some sort of destination of bliss or enlightenment or zen or whatever.
In my opinion, building a life you don’t want to escape is about creating routines, habits, and mindsets that will set you up for success today and down the road. What are you doing today on a good day that will help protect you on a bad day? You can’t build a guardrail while you’re already careening off the side of the road. You can’t build in good habits and systems to take care of yourself when you’re spiralling. You need to build them beforehand to protect you when conditions get bad.
When you build these structures of habit, routine, mindfulness, and even indulgence into your life, you aren’t escaping your real life when you need to unplug or reset. You’re instead taking advantage of things you’ve already set up beforehand and retreating to an area of your life that you’ve created to recharge and rejuvenate you. That could look like taking a 30 minute bath once a week to give yourself a moment rather than waiting for the stress to build up until you need to escape for a spa weekend and ignore what’s going on in your life. Or maybe it looks like creating a safe place for you to express your feelings—whether that be in therapy, through journaling, or in conversations with someone you trust—so it doesn’t show up in a way you can’t control.
Building a life you don’t want to escape is work. It’s a continuous process and at the end of it, you won’t have something you created beautifully wrapped up in a bow. Life is messy and it’s going to be messy, but you can control how you show up in your own life. You can do things every day to take care of yourself and you can make choices every day to create the life you want. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not going to arrive at any sort of destination and you probably won’t know what the road ahead looks like. Do your best to set yourself up for success along the way. That’s all you really can do.
What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!