When “self care” isn’t really self care

I often (okay, basically always) allow myself just the bare minimum of basic human needs necessary for survival. I don’t know about you, but for me in my life, I put myself last.

Being a mom, and also having extremely low self worth as it is, it’s so incredibly easy to just forget about myself and neglect my needs. When I feel my tank lower than usual, I’ll recognize the signs and engage in “self care”. Because it really is SO true….

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

What does self care look like?

If I’m actively engaging in self care, it looks a lot like completing simple tasks. Eating a meal for the first time all day, or sitting down if I’m just too physically exhausted to go on. Or maybe it’s taking a “luxuriously long” 15 minute shower, instead of a 7 or 8 minute one. Sometimes “self care” is giving myself a break from the endless laundry that needs to be folded.

But that doesn’t actually feel like self care. It feels like survival. And honestly…those are things that we need to just…function.

Sometimes we all need more. Sometimes I need more. For example, my husband got me a gift card for me to get massages for my birthday. It very well might take me over a year to actually go and get that done, and still, it will be with him pushing me to do it.

I don’t know why I feel like I can’t do more for myself, like I feel like I just don’t deserve to. I think I just feel guilty. Like I shouldn’t be taking the time for myself. I’m in this world for others, it’s my job to put them first.

But that’s wrong, and I can’t do that. I need to take care of myself first so I can be the best I can be for them. It’s always so hard for me to do this, but self care is more than survival. (My favorite type of self care that might actually be self care is going to therapy. It makes me feel like I really am doing something for myself.)

Part of the problem is that I don’t know what proper self care would actually be. Like…drinking a hot cup of coffee and eating a meal is such a rare occurrence that it feels like self care, even though at the end of the day, it’s not going to be enough to mentally refuel me.

When I don’t feel taken care of, when I don’t feel refreshed or strong, thats when I turn to maladaptive things like drinking, or taking stress out on someone else, or just crashing.

Self care really is important, and I know I need to figure this out. I can’t keep running on empty, it isn’t good for anyone.

Sometimes I feel like a Sim and my needs are all in the red 😳

But still…there are moments like this. My 4 year old just overheard a conversation where somebody asked me to do something, and I said I couldn’t right now because I was busy getting his breakfast ready. My son then said to me “Mommy, I’m sorry you’re so busy and doing such a great job taking care of me. I’ll help you do this job”. So, I mean, I must be doing something right. Even if my tank is only ever half full at best. I do love them. And they deserve the best version of me.

Don’t full into the trap of thinking that self care is as simple as just making sure your basic needs are met. That isn’t it. That should happen anyway. Be intentional with it! We need to put ourselves and our health, mental and otherwise, first.

2 thoughts on “When “self care” isn’t really self care”

  1. I find that really basic self-care can help fill up the tank a little bit above red level, but to be really effective in helping others, a fuller tank is needed.

    1. I definitely agree with that. I feel like I need to be very intentional about it, almost plan it out, or it doesn’t actually happen or make a big difference in how I feel. But that’s where it gets hard for me, doing something “intentional” and planned out for myself always feels weird, even though it’s so needed

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: