The Self-Care Myth

When it comes to self-care, our news feeds are filled with information on the next BEST self-care thing we should be doing to be a better mom, dad, wife, business owner, etc.

For many women, the messages we externally receive from others is to take care of ourselves by making sure we look “beautiful” (hair done, nails done, eyelashes done….) along with many glasses of wine (or any type of alcohol). All with the intent to escape from the craziness or stress of our days.

Men get the message of taking time for themselves by escaping for boys night, watching excessive amounts of sports and TV while drinking.

Now don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed a glass of red wine and a red velvet cupcake (my favourite!) with a girlfriend. I enjoy getting my hair done every once in a while… But the constant barrage of messages out there is that many of us are doing these things to escape the insanity within our lives. All while pretending that these things we are doing, such as drinking, are for our mental health or in the name of self-care.

First off here is a list of what self-care isn’t:

  1. A sign of weakness

    Taking some time for you will make you stronger and better able to handle the stressors that are inevitable.

  2. Only for some people

    We all need to take care of ourselves because as my mom would say, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will”. Good advice mom!

  3. The same for everyone

    What fills someone else up will be so different from person to person. You need to look to yourself when it comes to personal care.

  4. Only emotional care

    Physical self-care can be just as fulfilling!

  5. Something to keep quiet

    There should be absolutely no shame when it comes to this topic.

  6. Something to distract us from the stress of our lives

The truth: real self-care can be a very unbeautiful thing.

What self-care can look like:

  • Sweating through a brutal and gruelling workout
  • Telling a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or distancing yourself from a family member because you can’t see eye-to-eye
  • Getting a second job so you have a savings account instead of living pay cheque to pay cheque
  • Learning to accept yourself for who you are now so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything to everyone
  • Letting the dishes sit, have a dirty kitchen and spending time playing with your kids instead
  • Eating a nutritious meal as your reward instead of indulging in chocolate and ice cream
  • Meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on your partner, friends or family members

Because we need to be honest with ourselves – self-care often takes doing the things that you least want to do in the moment to help our future self. 

Real self-care is about building a life you don’t need to regularly escape from instead of something we resort to because we are absolutely exhausted from our lives.

Take some time to figure out what self-care is to you. Your body and mind will thank you later.

On that note, I am going to go back to enjoying some quiet snuggles with my kids…


Dr. Sarah