The Discomfort of Self-Care: Wellness Wednesday
Written By: Jacqueline Azah
Self-care is not always bubble baths, candles, and a facemask. As a person who has no
problem indulging in the finer things of life, self-care has always been a slippery slope that led to overindulgence and escapism. I am not denying the power of an aloe vera-infused sheet of fabric to soothe my skin after a long day. I can only speak for myself, but I would like to challenge the popular idea that self-care is limited to activities in your comfort zone. As
someone who would consider myself ambitious, I spend the majority of my day living in my
dreams and romanticizing just about everything I come across. Dreaming big has brought me to highs and lows because of a little thing called escapism. To me, escapism is self-care hidden in an aloe vera facemask, and TikTok must buy Amazon posts. It is the act of using your comfort zone to avoid reality. I have battled with this for so long. It is so easy to relish in the luxury of stillness, especially when the world around you is falling apart. More often than not, we do this in the name of self-care. This false sense of self-care is not healthy in the long run, as it only serves to delay our inevitable reentry into reality.
What I have learned is that self-care sometimes looks like forcing yourself to have a
conversation about boundaries with a loved one. It's like walking past the Hot Cheetos and
going to the produce section for more vegetables to add to your diet. The theme in these
examples is discomfort. Self-care can be uncomfortable, and in fact, I'd argue that it should be uncomfortable. Self-care to me looks like growth, and in order to grow, you need to overcome discomfort. How I came to the realization that I was not caring for myself was when I realized that after these stints of skin care and eating every junk food in my cabinet, I was still not happy. Sometimes, I was unhappier afterward than I was, to begin with. There was an internal dialogue that was taking place that expressed self-disparagement. Once I realized those emotions were arising, I allowed myself to sit in those emotions and ask them why. It was only when I started to shift my internal dialogue to one of self-compassion and understanding that I noticed real changes in my behavior. Inner change and self-discipline can only be sustained through self-love. You cannot shame yourself into going to the gym or having the necessary tough conversations. That is probably why those difficult tasks are not associated with self-care: in order to complete them, uncomfortable feelings about yourself arise. It is much easier to sit on the couch and be comfortable than to challenge yourself and realize you have not been living in alignment with your goals.
Consider the longevity of your self-care the next time you're having a bad day and have
piles of unfinished homework, but that aloe vera target face mask and pimple extraction look
appealing. Love yourself into choosing the uncomfortable because on the other side of that
struggle is true self-care. Taking a step back and looking at your situation objectively may help you realize that, while treating yourself with some self-care is important, the decisions that will have the most positive long-term impact are those related to staying in line with your goals.