Written by Kat, a wonderful soul living with an eating disorder. Kat reached out to ECBC Manchester and asked to share her thoughts about the importance of self-care when going through a difficult time living with a mental illness.
Self-care has become somewhat of a trend over the last few years. You can dip into most stores on the high street and find anything from candles, bath bombs, clothing, bedding, all slapped with a slogan of ‘you do you’ or ‘self-love’. There are even cute hashtags to follow on Instagram or Twitter, so you can scroll through people’s perfect self care days…but are we missing the point of what self-care actually is?
Whilst treating yourself to flowers and notebooks is not a bad thing, it paints the idea that self-care is just a one day a week thing and that it’s something that can be bought. But surely there’s more to this notion of self-care than consumerism and a one off event when you can find the time.
The ugly truth is, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity.
We live in a society that is constantly on the go, we struggle to say no to things, we place so much emphasis on productivity and base our worth on how many things we can tick off a to do list. But whilst we are running around, we are also forgetting to actually care about ourselves, both physically and mentally.
We forget the simple stuff like drinking water in favour of a coffee on the go. We forget to eat in favour of squeezing in a few more hours of work. We forget to sleep in favour of just responding to a few more emails…but all of this forgetting comes at a cost and it’s time we started to take care of ourselves.
To me self-care is about the little things, the unglamorous things and sometimes the things that actually don’t make us feel immediately happy. Learning to care for yourself is learning to say no when you can. It’s learning to not take on the extra work and instead go home and be with your family. It’s about saying no to invitations out so you can finally spend time reading that book you’ve had on your bedside table for months…
Self-care is about setting yourself reminders to eat and stay hydrated on a daily basis. It’s about booking that smear test you’ve been meaning to have or having your medication reviewed by your GP. It’s about taking a good, honest look at your finances and cutting back where you need or finally opening that savings account you said you would.
Self-care is about finally starting that hobby that you’ve been wanting to and cutting yourself off from working too late. It’s about time away from your phone, away from work, in favour of a walk or just simply resting. It’s about forcing yourself to just sit down for a while.
You see, self-care is so much more than a trend and often it isn’t pretty or cute. It’s about putting yourself, your whole self first, listening to yourself, being honest with yourself and doing what’s best for you – even when it’s hard. Self-care is not a luxury, it is not a selfish act. Self-care is doing what needs to be done in order for us to live as best we can…and you deserve that.
Thank you Kat for sharing your thoughts surrounding self-care and using your experience to help others. If you would like to share any advice or your experience living with a mental illness please do not hesitate to get in touch.