I've been thinking a lot about 'self-care' recently. In the broadest sense, self-care is simply looking after yourself, but in the world of the Internet it has come to mean more than that. It means listening to yourself and your body, responding to your needs and putting yourself first. It's not beating yourself up for mistakes (real or perceived) and treating yourself like you would your best friend.
However, I've been wondering whether my default 'self-care' is actually more 'self-comfort'. Heading for cake or wine when I'm feeling down. Buying myself a treat if I'm feeling stressed. Going straight for pyjamas and an early night. Although it sounds like those are caring things to do for myself, they are not actually the care I need. Sometimes, rather than a pile of mac'n'cheese, what I actually NEED is a healthy salad to help me feel rejuvenated. Rather than a night spent in front of Netflix, what I NEED is a walk or run to get my heart pumping and release all those endorphins everyone's always banging on about. Rather than snacks and self-pity, what I NEED is to cross things off my to-do list. Rather than hiding away under a duvet, what I NEED is time spent with friends and family.
Everyone's needs are different, of course, but I am a goal-focused extrovert, which means that so much of that tempting self-comfort goes against what I actually need to feel my best. Whilst it's easier to gorge on ice cream and Orange is the New Black, ignoring the outside world, I am better with a tidy house (and therefore a tidy mind), a finished to-do list and some time spent amongst other people. It takes effort, but it's worth it, for sure. Self-care, for me, needs to be more about knowing myself rather than following that simpler path that's mapped out in endless chick flicks and Internet think-pieces.
There are times, of course, when comfort is the self-care you need. Whether it's a pampering bubble bath, a cool glass of wine or an early night with a book, recognising when you need comforting is important for keeping your balance in life. But I'm going to be thinking twice before heading straight to the sofa.