“Self care” is the kind of term that almost always conjures up images of relaxing in warm bubble baths, enjoying spa days, sleeping in on the weekends, and otherwise being as peaceful, mellow, and chilled out as possible.
While all of these things certainly are a part of self care, and while self care naturally does require you to rest, relax, and take care of yourself on a more intimate level — it’s nonetheless also the case that the self help and wellness community often ends up juxtaposing the idea of self care to the idea of “self discipline” or, worst of all, “productivity.”
As with so much else in life, though, the true key is likely to be a balance — and good self care doesn’t only involve doing things that help you to unwind and feel good in the momentum, but also things that help to nurture your wellbeing across a longer timeline.
Here are a handful of reasons why self care and self discipline are not opposites.
A degree of discipline is required to stick with wellness-promoting habits and routines
There are all sorts of different habits and routines that are well known to contribute dramatically to a sense of wellbeing in life, that may nonetheless be difficult to stick with — especially to stick with consistently — unless you have a decent degree of self discipline, too.
Going to sleep at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning, for example, can play a vitally important role in helping to properly regulate the circadian rhythm and promote restful sleep. But when it’s the weekend and Netflix beckons, you may well find yourself going to bed many hours later than you normally would — and then feeling groggy and restless all over again come Monday.
While many self care practices are quite “feel good” in the moment, and won’t require much discipline, plenty of others will. Apart from maintaining a regular sleep routine, there are also things like regular exercise to keep in mind — something that no one feels “in the mood for” at all times, but which just about everyone benefits from.
Often, dealing with projects or chores that you may feel some degree of resistance to will be great for your sense of wellbeing
There are inevitably going to be all sorts of projects and chores that need to be dealt with in your home, and over the course of your everyday life in general, which you may well not really feel like dealing with.
Things like checking up search times such as tried and tested pest control near me, to deal with a potential infestation in your home. Or even filing your tax returns.
Nonetheless, failing to properly stay on top of these sorts of projects and chores will only help you to avoid feeling momentarily frustrated in the here and now, with the ultimate consequence being an elevated baseline level of stress, and a future issue that will only become worse until you have to deal with it head on.
A big part of good self care is doing the things that are good for you, and that keep problems from developing or getting worse (to the best of your ability), even when you don’t feel like it.
Self care requires rest and balance, but not only rest
Self care absolutely does require a good degree of rest and balance in life — but the term “balance” implies more than just rest, it also implies being active, organised, and outgoing in the right proportions.
Today, a problem that many people end up facing is over-work, and the writer Celeste Headlee has had a lot to say about this in her book “Do Nothing,” which essentially serves as a rallying cry to stop trying to be productive all the time, and to instead take it easy more often.
But just as over-work can generate a lot of stress, can stop you from enjoying the moment, and can detract from valuable time spent with loved ones, so too can too much of an emphasis on relaxing and “taking it easy” leave you feeling disempowered, unfocused, and frustrated.
When you think of self care, always think about the term “balance” rather than just “leisure.”
A level of discipline will be required to help you to achieve your full potential and to thrive
We don’t typically think about things like pursuing and achieving goals as being related to “self care,” but who doesn’t experience a heightened sense of wellbeing when they feel that they are expanding and achieving their potential and achieving their goals?
A level of discipline will be required to help you to achieve your full potential, and to thrive in life as a whole.