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F*ck “Self-Care”

Just in case you needed one more reason to feel like you aren’t keeping up, let us consider whether your “self-care” is up to standard.

No???? Wow. Shocking.

KNOW WHY? Because getting the “recommended” amount of sleep, water, exercise, “me time,” journaling, vitamins, etc., etc. is abso-freakin-lutely impossible. Wait—sorry, actually, you know who IS able to do self-care 100% on a daily basis? Liars. That’s who.

Anyone with a job, kid, friend, patient, dog, significant other, or a family member has, at one time or another, gone without food, sleep, or bathroom breaks because to do otherwise would compromise something or someone that was more important than “self-care.” Sometimes, it is a dream that would die, for others it could be a person. Regardless, the loss or the threat of loss was unacceptable, so “me time” fell to the wayside.

For my next #unpopularopinion, let me recommend that mental health professionals stop subtly shaming people for burning the midnight oil. Too many times I’ve worked to clean up the fallout after a well-meaning “holistic workshop” that a surgeon, CEO, or single mother of 4 attended because after returning, they can’t find the time to journal like they “committed to do.” Not only that, but they aren’t able to “access feelings” like they were taught during psychodrama classes so now they think there is something wrong with them. They now have one more thing to feel bad about and more for their to-do list.

Therapists need to stop treating everyone the same when it comes to how much traditional “self-care” is recommended. Some people are Warriors and Caregivers, not Sages, Innocents, and Artists. Warriors need a therapist’s help taking off their armor, airing it out, and putting it back on when it’s time for battle, not destroying it entirely. Caregivers need a therapist’s help to avoid martyrdom while finding people to care for; they don’t need them to pathologize their sacrifices.

Want 3 “take-homes?” Here they are:

1. Failure to take care of yourself from time to time is completely human and completely normal. It is what differentiates you from a narcissistic psychopath (no offense to either diagnosis, of course).

2. Stop beating yourself up for not taking “self-care time,” it’s not an “all or nothing” thing. A soda at 4pm can be considered “self-care.”

3. And finally, “you do you” because the Sages, Innocents, and Artists will call for the Warriors and Caregivers to fight the battle and heal the wounds. As the saying goes, “it takes all kinds.”

Take care ;)

Stephanie Vaughn, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist-HSP, owner of PSYCHē


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