“You deserve good self-care.” Have you heard that before? So often, when we say things like this, we’re talking about the “fun” side of self-care. We mean that you deserve to try a yoga class, or get a massage, or go for a walk, or have some quiet time. And when you look at self-care in that light, it makes sense that people deserve self-care, because it feels good, and is enjoyable. But those same things that sound enjoyable to many of us sound really scary to others. And that truth reminded me of some reflection I have been doing about the rest of what self-care means.
Because sometimes, self-care means that you choose to do a medical treatment that will terrorize your body–because letting the cancer win is a worse alternative. Sometimes, self-care means that you quit smoking–even though withdrawal is brutal. Sometimes, self-care means choosing which part of your body to bruise with your injection or insulin pump site–because not taking your medicine would be worse self-care. Sometimes, self-care means that you recognize that your old methods of coping aren’t cutting it anymore and you try therapy–even though there is stigma attached to doing that.
Here’s one of “small-print” secrets that we wrestle with in therapy. Sometimes, self-care is hard. Really hard. Whether your self-care includes managing an illness, changing old patterns of thinking, or carving out tiny spaces from the work of care-giving–it is tough. Making the choices that are best for your health doesn’t always mean making choices that feel good or fun. In fact, for many of us, committing to good self-care is about committing to stay engaged in a challenging journey.
But here’s a truth that I live by. You do deserve good self-care. You deserve to live a life that is as healthy as possible–a life that includes whatever steps you need to take to preserve your mental, physical & emotional health. And if those steps are hard to take, you also deserve incredible support.
So, in whatever way is best for you–a local group, an online group, a pastor, a circle of friends, a therapist, a mentor, your loved ones–I hope that you are building a network of people that support your good self-care–especially when that self-care includes hard choices.
Do you have a favorite way to get support for the hard parts of self-care? A favorite self-reminder or affirmation? Please feel free to share it in the comments.
Image Credit: Photo by The Sean & Lauren Spectacular via Flickr