“Self-care” is a term we often hear. To some people, it means engaging in yoga or taking a mental day-off. To others, it’s as luxurious as going on an expensive vacation. The thing is, it's crucial to understand the fine line between actual self-care and mere self-indulgence. While both have their time and place, mixing them up can lead to an unfulfilled, unsustainable lifestyle. So, how can you ensure that your self-care routines are more than just skin-deep indulgences?
Self-care is a broad concept, but at its core, it leaves you feeling nourished, not drained.
Whether it's exercise, meditation, or even a hobby that keeps you engaged, true self-care fills you with a sense of peace, joy, and relaxation. Such activities that fall under genuine self-care might not always provide instant gratification, but they do often cultivate a sense of long-term wellness and purpose.
On the other side of the coin, self-indulgence is typically more immediate and, in a sense, hedonistic, pleasure-wise.
Now the thing is, self-indulgence isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, there's nothing inherently wrong with indulging yourself occasionally, but these activities rarely provide long-term benefits and can often leave you feeling empty or anxious.
In an Oprah Daily article, Elizabeth Fedrick, Ph.D., a mental health therapist based in Arizona and founder of Evolve Counseling, puts it succinctly: Self-care activities are "the things that really light up your brain" and provide "a sense of peace, joy, relaxation." Fedrick believes that self-indulgence can be considered self-care as long as it doesn't negatively affect your quality of life or interfere with your daily functioning.
Intentionality matters, too.
Before engaging in any self-care or self-indulgent activity, consider your motivation. Are you treating yourself to a massage after a stressful week to relax your muscles and clear your mind, or are you avoiding a task that you need to complete? Will you be getting lash extensions because they help you feel more confident and happy? Is scheduling monthly facials your way of taking care of your skin in the long run? Your intent will often determine whether an activity serves as self-care or becomes self-indulgence.
So, can binge-watching an entire season of your favorite series be considered self-care? According to Fedrick, "it’s all relative." If you’ve put in a long workweek and you're using the show to unwind and recharge for what lies ahead, then the number of hours spent in front of the screen isn't necessarily a problem.
As with all things in life, balance is key.
It's crucial to make informed choices about self-care, particularly when those lines start to blur. After all, self-care looks different for everyone. As you try to create a balanced, fulfilling lifestyle, it’s important to reflect not just on what you're doing, but why you're doing it. After all, meaningful self-care is less about the activity itself and more about the long-lasting impact it has on your well-being.
Remember that activities that genuinely serve your well-being will leave you feeling enriched, not depleted. Take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual being the way that you need to, not according to what social media tells you. And when you do, best believe that your future self will thank you.