Some time ago, I wrote a post on how self-care is not selfish. I still believe that to be the case.
However, one major thing I’ve noticed is that some of the commonly offered tips are ones that some people cannot follow/carry out because of life circumstances. In other words, some (Many?) of the tips I see are not accessible to many, if not most, of us.
For example, here are a few common self-care tips and how they may not be practical for certain groups of people:
- Mental health days. Some self-care calls for mental health days, or days that people take off from certain things in order to care for themselves. A “mental health day” is something that many aren’t able to do because work schedules don’t allow for that.
- Bubble baths. Some self-care tips call for bubble baths in order to help relax oneself. However, some people don’t have time to make a quality bubble bath after a long day. And even for those who have the time, not every home or apartment has the tub that allows one to take a bubble bath.
- Walks. Taking a walk (a part of my self-care routine) is not possible in many parts of the United States and world because of a lack of sidewalks and places to walk.
- Massages. Much like with bubble baths, the idea of getting a massage is as a means of relaxing oneself. However, getting a massage costs money that many people do not have.
- Unplugging from technology. This is a really well-intended self-care tip, as for some of us technology of certain kinds (especially social media, I am finding) can have a toll on some of our mental health. That being said, I know people who work in jobs where unplugging from technology, which is what some self-care lists call for, is not possible.
- Therapy. A lot of people cannot afford therapy, even if a therapist might be helpful for certain people in certain circumstances.
Note that I am not saying that these tips are bad per se; for some people, these tips may be quite good. However, advocates of self-care need to recognize that certain tips may not work for everyone, and that circumstances in one’s life may keep one from implementing certain self-care tips.
What should one do with self-care tips when reading them, then? And what should one do when suggesting self-care tips to individual people?
If you’re reading self-care tips, my answer is that no matter what the author says, don’t feel badly if there are some elements of self-care that are absolutely impossible to work into your life right now. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to follow certain self-care tips.
As for those who suggest self-care tips to individual people, I recommend just being sensitive to the fact that life circumstances may keep people from following certain tips you recommend. That doesn’t make either you or the person you’re suggesting the tips to bad people—it is just a fact of life that not everything works for everyone.
One final, but relevant, note I’ll make is that there is a place for themed self-care tips. I think there need to be posts on self-care for new dads, self-care for those with long hours, self-care for essential medical workers during COVID, and more. Sometimes, the best self-care tips are from those experiencing circumstances in life similar to yours. I will hold up to my end of the bargain by writing a self-care post next week on self-care tips for working long hours, because I’ve been there before.
I am not critical of the idea of self-care recommendations; to the contrary, they are needed and great. However, it is important to remember that not everything works for everyone.