'Self-Care' Might Look Different For You, And That's Okay

by Karen Szabo
Originally Published: 
Portrait of laughing woman practicing yoga in home
Thomas Barwick/Getty

Everyone’s self-care looks different. Me, I like to drink hot water with lemon and turmeric in the morning before I’ve had a sniff of coffee to help my aging and combative digestive system. You? You may like to run first thing, or lift weights, or simply sit looking out the window while sipping on that delicious hot coffee I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Well, folks, self-care is needed now more than ever. And not the forced-upon self-care the internet is telling you that you need. I’m talking about the self-care that makes you brain feel at ease, or, in my case, your digestive tract.

We’re smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, and we are high on various swirling emotions coming at us from all angles, shooting around like we’re in the middle of a space war. Reprieve may feel like a thing from the past and we’re all struggling one way or another.

Now, more than ever, we need to put the judgments and comparisons down and start looking to ourselves for answers.

How can I get through this? Well, that’s a question that will be answered in a thousand different ways, as we all have our thing.

However, while we all may have different answers for self care, there’s one thing that none of us are immune to: the attack this pandemic has on our mental health.

I’m assuming you’ve probably gone online and received a ton of overwhelming information from how to keep your kids occupied, to educational resources, to home exercises, to baking the latest amazing sourdough bread. And while that’s all amazing and appreciated material for some, it’s also a lot to process — and perhaps even a bit defeating for some others, me included.

You’ve most likely seen copious amounts of posts of people learning new skills, or have been bombarded with toxic positivity flashing all over your social media, which probably does the opposite of what we want it to do for our mental health.

My tip? Give yourself a break and allow yourself to let go. Your mental health matters more, trust that.

Look, no one is peeking into your house to make sure you’ve dusted off your picture frames or sanitized your base boards. No one is looking into your internet usage or checking in on your children’s screen time. You know why? (Other than that it would be super creepy?) Because while you’re fretting about other people judging you, those other people are fretting about you too.

Let’s all just take a step back. Breathe.

Right now, more than ever, your mental health may need you to leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Self-care may look like leaving your kid’s clothes lying on the floor, crumpled in a ball in the corner of the bathroom. Sanity may need you to ditch the homemade meal and throw in a frozen pizza with a side of tater tots.

Above all, it needs you to stop comparing yourself to everyone else.

Your self-care can be whatever you want it to be; whatever you want it to look like. There’s no right or wrong answer. It may not look like Melanie’s, but you don’t live Melanie’s life, so stop vying to be more like Melanie.

You don’t need to turn into a Martha Stewart wannabe because there’s a pandemic and you’re stuck at home. You don’t need to learn five languages, do extreme crafts with your kids, or find stress yourself out because from the five-page instructions on how to create rainbow colored paper towel.

Right now, more than ever, your mental health and that of your family come before anything else, especially your unrealistic views of what you should be doing, because you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing.

If getting up every morning and feeding your kids before you get down to work is all you can muster, then so be it. If you like to dazzle your eyes with different shades of colors each day because it makes you feel human, have it, I bet it looks great! If you find a happy medium between homeschooling and screen time for your obnoxiously loud children, you do you, mama.

Your mental health and well being needs to come before any kind of judgement you start putting on yourself. Coming from experience, it’s quite challenging to run a family when you’re in a bad head space. Negative energy radiates off of you when you’re feeling stressed and out of control, and if your family is anything like mine, they’ll know.

So please, for the sake of your sanity and well-being, close the apps, put down the internet, and step away. The only thing that is going to tell you if you’re doing what is right for you is that small little feeling in the pit of your stomach called intuition. You know yourself better than anyone else. You know your family better than anyone else.

Trust yourself and be true to yourself.

Again, now more than ever, give yourself a break and take care of your mind, your body, and your soul in any which way that feels right.

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