Lately, I’ve been noticing a bit of a social media rebellion over the term “self-care” (especially in relation to dealing with anxiety or depression). Like other trendy “buzzwords,” I have often thought that the term “self-care” is used so much in our culture that it feels almost meaningless. It seems that every activity from manicures and bubble baths to exercise and specialized diets falls under the self-care rubric.
A friend and fellow Anxiety Sister is really struggling with the whole concept. To her, self care can be watching Netflix while eating her favorite ice cream. Or it can be going to the gym. Either way, too often she finds herself feeling worse—either about “indulging” herself or not pushing herself hard enough. “Self care just isn’t good for me!” she said.
Like my friend, many Anxiety Sisters find the cultural prescription for “self care” to be anxiety-provoking. Self care activities become additions to our already overly ambitious To Do lists and we feel a sense of failure when we cannot get them done. As if we do not already cope with enough BS (blame & shame)!
However, if we reframe the concept of self care (and rename it too), it can take on a different meaning. I like to think of the term “self connection” rather than self care. When we can connect back to ourselves, we replenish our energy and clear our busy minds. And connection is not as loaded a word as “care.”
Self connection, therefore, doesn’t have to be an activity or event (although it certainly can be—needlework is one way I connect with myself and Abs likes to color). It may involve something as small as taking a few deep breaths or cuddling with the dog. It may also be spending time in nature, praying, saying a mantra, or visualizing a special person or place. Self connection is not about doing things other people think will make us feel better. Self connection is about finding ourselves, even just for a moment, in the midst of all our challenges.
When we are feeling overwhelmed and cannot find ourselves, self connection can be about asking for help (or giving help to someone else). Expressing gratitude or forgiveness can also help us reconnect. As Anxiety Sisters, we often say “don’t go it alone,” and we truly believe that connection with ourselves and others is so healing for all of us. So, if self-care is beginning to feel like a chore, try “self-connection” and see if that works better.