Wellness Wednesday: Self-Care vs Self-Wear

Self-care is a funny thing. It’s such a(n annoying) catchphrase in today’s ubiquitous wellness industry and it’s treated like a one-size-fits all activity. Need a break from work? Go on vacation! Need a break from your kids? Go on a retreat! Vacations and retreats are super great, but if you return from one feeling even more depleted than before you left home, then there’s something worth looking into…

What constitutes self-care for one person isn’t necessarily caring for another person; but instead, will lead to self-wear. True self-care requires being attuned to your own body, your own rhythms, and therefore your own needs. I used to think that as long as I stuck to my simple Ayurvedic morning (neti, eye wash, tongue scrape) and evening (abhyanga, meditation, phone off) routines, I was sufficiently self-cared-for. Wrong! It didn’t matter how well I stuck to my routines if I was still: eating poorly, using my energy unwisely, and/or sleeping too late, among many other things that aren’t self-caring.

By now you might be seeing what I’m getting at: self-care is an all-day, all-life, awareness practice type of thing. I came to this realization in my mid-20s when I found myself at a job I didn’t care for, had a degree I never truly wanted, was with someone I wasn’t growing with, and basically felt zero joy in my life because I wasn’t doing anything for myself. I wasn’t using my energy doing things I truly wanted to do. There was a disconnect between what I was doing and what I wanted and I felt so tired all the time. I was deeply maligned with the basic tenets of self-care, those of which being the SELF parts. All the energy I was putting into other-care was turning into self-wear.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen and trust how your heart is telling you to take care of yourself. When I feel unsure about doing something, I ask myself, “will this help me know myself better?” and “will this help me connect to my true center?”

Self-care exists not just in the realm of actions but also in the realm of thoughts. While self-caring thoughts (and actions) are rooted in love and compassion, self-wearing thoughts are rooted in fear and judgment. “I look tired and ugly” has a much different feel and vibration than “I’m going to sleep more.”

I say all this to point out that if what you do and how you do things don’t bring you joy and make you feel light and happy, then perhaps that activity is closer on the self-wear side of the self-care spectrum. Ask yourself daily, “How am I taking care of myself?” and be honest with your answer. Sometimes it takes some courage, especially if you’re like me - a pleaser. Asking this simple question can help you start getting in better touch with your needs and taking better care of yourself. Be patient, because it may take a while for you to get in touch. At the end of the day, any honest effort made to contribute to self-care is better than than not trying at all.