What is and isn’t self care

A few days ago I found out by some terrible circumstance that I’d used up all of my internet for this month and it wouldn’t refresh till April 6th*. I decided the best thing to do was to walk into town and treat myself to three seasons’ worth of New Girl DVDs. New Girl is my favourite TV show since Parks & Rec and you can’t watch it on Netflix in the UK – I usually just watch it when I’m on holiday ’cause it’s available in Europe, but I felt I really needed this. It was, in its own way, an act of self care.


That was Friday. It’s now Monday and I’m still watching New Girl. I’ve watched two seasons of it and it’s take up most of my weekend. It’s so damn good. But self care is not linear and about an hour ago I realised that this was making me feel worse rather than better. And I was wasting watching these episodes for the first time (a rare and magical experience!) on a time it was making me feel bad. I’d written today, the third Sunday in a row, off as a “binge TV, eat whatever’s in” sort of day. This was partly because a) I thought the Tesco nearby was closed so I couldn’t buy nice food b) I wanted to have a long bath tonight so I didn’t shower this morning and c) I’m not seeing anyone today so I am wearing my biggest hoody and my less comfortable pair of harem pants.


It turns out Tesco isn’t closed, it’s too small to close. My flat is a tip. There was loads of unwashed pots from last night because my family came over and despite staying up till half 2, I was too ‘urgh’ feeling to clean up yesterday. I watched New Girl instead under the ‘self care’ guise. Today I still feel ‘urgh’.


Right now self care is not watching New Girl. It’s cleaning the flat, going to Tesco in the rain to buy nice food, getting paracetamol, drinking water, making lunch for tomorrow, changing out of my sloppy clothes into something nicer and making myself do these things. Maybe I’ll watch an episode of New Girl at the end of the day, but if I did it now I’d be lying to myself to call it self care.


Self care is an ever changing phenomenon that doesn’t fit us all equally. Some days it’s as small and rudimental as having a shower and getting out of bed before midday. Some days it’s deliberately staying in bed so you get enough sleep. Some days it’s ordering a takeaway because you’re too sad and miserable to cook. Some days it’s cooking because you have to eat something healthy. The ‘goopification’** of self care has lead people to believe that it is merely face masks and candles and wine. It’s not. Some days it is, but it’s a beast that can change day to day. We have to listen to our internal weather and decide if what we’re doing is good and healthy for us – or if we’re being too lazy or pushing ourselves too hard.


I’m aware my blog is still in a state of being built but it’s important for me right now to publish this. I’ve cleaned all the pots up and I already feel better for it. Now I’m going to change into some jeans, buy food and make fettuccine pasta with a tomato and mushroom sauce. I’ll feel a lot better in an hour, I’m sure.


*I have a mobile wifi hotspot from Vodafone of 50mb a month. How I used 50mb is a confusing disaster – apparently I was using 0.977mb per 21 minute episode of Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It does not take a genius to figure out that somehow Vodafone messed up because that’s an unreasonable amount of data.


**I took the word ‘goopification’ from this excellent article on self care. goop is the Gwyneth Paltrow magazine / email thing. I signed up to laugh at how ridiculous it is: https://www.the-pool.com/health/mind/2018/7/amy-jones-on-the-goopification-of-self-care

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