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  • Writer's pictureTracy McGimpsey

Self-Care but maybe not the way you're used to thinking about it

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Most posts about self-care I've seen talk about taking baths, being active, getting enough sleep, eating well, and so on. These things are very important - sleep, nutrition, and physical activity are the three pillars of mental health. However, this isn't all that self-care is. I talk with my clients about what I call small-picture and big-picture self-care.

Ultimate self-care is building a life that you don't regularly want to escape. This includes both small-picture and big-picture.

Small-picture self-care is things that feel good right now - a bubble bath, eating chocolate, watching TV, reading a book, or whatever you enjoy. They're relatively easy to do and enjoyable. Some people are really good at giving themselves the time to do these things and even including them as part of their routine.

A limit of small-picture self-care is that it may help at the moment but may not change things long term. In fact, it may lead to more issues down the road as small-picture self-care can cause us to stay in unhealthy situations longer leading to more distress and larger impact.

Big-picture self-care is something else. Big picture self-care may not feel good at the moment. In fact, big-picture self-care can feel really scary for people, cause anxiety, and involve things that they may want to avoid. It is things like setting and maintaining boundaries, quitting a toxic job, ending a toxic relationship, disconnecting from a family member, standing up for yourself, showering when you're depressed, attending therapy, etc.

These things can be very difficult for people. These are things that may be labeled "selfish" by others, but that doesn't mean that they are selfish. It's common for people to feel guilty when they begin practicing this type of self-care - like they're doing something wrong; this may be because they are doing things that they're not used to doing.

It's okay to take care of yourself and to decide what works for you and what doesn't, what you want in your life and what you don't, who you want in your life and who you don't. And it's okay if other people don't like it.


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