By Sara Askew, September 14 2018—
The new school year is quickly approaching, bringing with it the inevitable stress and self-neglect that many university students are far too familiar with. It is easy to become complacent in our routines and choose the instant gratification of self-comfort over the long term rewards that self-care can give us. Often, self-care and self-comfort are confused, causing many people to fall into habits of constant comfort over actual healing and self-care.
Sleeping until noon, binge-watching Netflix and mindlessly scrolling through Instagram are habits to which we all fall prey. We justify these actions by referring to them as ‘self-care,’ when in truth it’s not actually self-care at all. These passive, mindless undertakings are solely self-comforting activities — enjoyable because they aid in numbing our emotional turmoil and allowing us to check out of our less-desirable reality.
Self-comfort seldom fulfils or rejuvenates, despite our inclination to seek instant gratification. It is intuitive that we tend to choose comfort over care. Furthermore, the pursuit of self-comfort often results in slacking off on responsibilities and — especially in terms of school work — procrastination. Tasks pile up, anxiety sets in and negative energy takes over every aspect of life, creating a never-ending cycle. We try to use mind-numbing self-comfort to break this cycle, even though that’s what’s keeping us in it. Like quicksand, the warm thought of your bed when you should be studying for midterms sucks you in, again and again.
Although self-comfort at times can be necessary for our well-being, the misnomer of ‘self-care’ can quickly transform into a means to distract and avoid the problems in life. True self-care isn’t easy — it takes discipline and dedication. It’s not always fun but it forces us to engage with ourselves and what we’re experiencing. Real self-care gives us the results we are seeking, the results we often think we may find in the comfort and security of binge-watching three seasons of The Office. Self-care is a conscious choice to do the things you would rather avoid like the plague — chores, course readings, exercise. The things that, once done, allow us to manage our time and not procrastinate.
Avoiding important tasks and replacing them with self-comforting activities is the opposite of self-care. Realizing actual self-care isn’t as easy as a face mask and bubble bath is a tough pill to swallow. Self-care is not something that happens overnight. It’s the small changes we implement into our daily routine that bring us closer to the best versions of ourselves. It’s found in small moments of strength, like when you make the decision to clean your house instead of laying in bed until noon. We make these seemingly small choices every day but we rarely acknowledge the impact these small decisions have on our mental well-being. At some point, those daily decisions will add up and play a significant role in our lives.
Self-care is a process of rewiring our habits, which can often be uncomfortable. But the small accomplishments that happen in the self-care journey create more value in our lives and make the entire process of being happy and productive worth it. Self-care is a very individual process but the result of making healthy, responsible choices allows us all to see an improvement in every aspect of life.