In an age when self-care has become synonymous with massages, dark chocolate and taking a sick day when you’re not really sick, it can be difficult to remember what it means to truly take care of yourself. Have you, as a working parent, ever stopped to examine exactly what you mean by “self-care?”
In a viral Facebook post, author Brianna Wiest shared her views on why today’s approach to self-care—salt baths and chocolate cake, for example—aren’t making us feel better, or less exhausted. Brianna says true self-care isn’t the occasional indulgence—it’s actually doing everything we don’t want to do. We couldn’t agree more.
Her insights were posted on the Facebook page Nepenthe, which shares inspiring, uplifting content for people all over the globe.
Brianna originally posted her thoughts in an essay on Thought Catalog titled “This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake.”
For working moms, the issue hits close to home. For years, we’ve been told by major advertisers and social media that self-care is taking a fizzy bubble bath and downloading a meditation app. Brianna suggests these solutions are just a band-aid—they won’t heal what’s really ailing us.
“A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick,” she writes. “Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.”
So what exactly is self-care? She correctly calls it a “very unbeautiful thing.” In other words, it’s the hard work you put in to create a life that fulfills you rather than drains you.
“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from,” she continues.
Of course, that’s a tall task for working moms. Identifying what’s not working in our lives and making a dedicated plan to do better—to visit the doctor regularly or split the mental load with our spouse, for example—requires time and patience. And those virtues are in short supply for most of us.
But the investment pays off, because when you fix the underlying problems that generate stress, you don’t need expensive, fast fixes to feel better, Brianna argues.
“If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with ‘treating yourself’ and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness,” she writes.
The Facebook post has garnered over 100K reactions and 250K shares. Her sentiments couldn’t be more true—and we can’t believe it took this post to help us realize it. Maybe now we’ll consider parenting ourselves along with our little ones as our truest form of self-care.