Self-care is a fickle beast. I think we can all agree that this year has done a lot of damage to people, and many have started to cope with all the changes in positive and productive ways. Jobs that were thought to be most important didn’t break the world when they stopped. Workplace practices changed seemingly overnight, and are reinforced by months of caution and precaution. Those staying at home have dealt with boredom by cooking, hobbying, binging shows. Families have gotten closer, people have learned to appreciate what a privilege it is to go out for lunch, walk in a park, shop in malls.
My dad spent the first months of quarantine to bake cookies, make fudge, and make spaghetti from scratch. My mom is very into yoga now. My brother’s life hasn’t changed, and he’s just as glued to his gaming as he was before the quarantine. So many have let themselves sleep in, indulge in new cuisines, get back into old hobbies. People are being kinder to themselves.
But there’s a dark side to that. I’ve learned that personally. Sometimes something that seems like self-care is the farthest thing from that. Yes, I did sleep in, it’s not a huge deal. But then eventually you come to realize that you’ve been sleeping for like sixteen hours a day for the past month. Yes, I am catching up on things I had no time for before. But if asked, I would not be able to tell you what I watched, it was time spent staring at a screen with no motivation and engagement. Yes, I have been busy and organized and on task. I’ve been opening a lot of important things on the computer, I’ve been moving around the house getting documents organized, sending things that need to be sent. Well, yes, I’ve walked up and down the stairs and checked the bills, but like, I’ve done that yesterday too, and the day before that, and the day before that. At some point all of that has seized to be the act of being on track to get over this hellhole of a year and has become the very thing that is making everything worse.
At some point the idea of taking care can get out of control. And it’s important to acknowledge that. And it’s more important to stand back, take a look at all the kindness you’ve been allowing yourself, and see it for how cruel it can be. And then most of all, it’s important to adjust. Set an alarm, learn to focus your efforts, and recognize how to be kind to yourself again.