Discovering Authentic Self Care
Part 1 of a series on mental health self care written by guest writer, Alissa Hager
When the term “self-care” comes up, what comes to your mind? Really think about it. Make a list. Now go back over that list and look at how many things you wrote down that are enjoyable and how many are more mundane or difficult. Maybe even things you dread or are afraid of. Now, you might be thinking why the %#*& would I write things that are painful or scary when you just asked me about self-CARE? By the end of this self-care series, hopefully you’ll be able to answer that question.
I’ve been a mental health counselor for several years, during which I’ve treated dozens of people with anxiety, depression, trauma, etc. A a common theme that comes up is practicing self-care. It usually takes a while before people realize that I’m asking them to think about self-care outside of the pop culture bath bomb and spa day fix-all approach; it takes even longer until they embrace the steps I’m asking them to do. And I get it! True, proper self-care is hard.
I’ll be talking about the type of self-care that requires being completely honest with yourself about what is depleting you, then taking steps to alleviate this. It means letting go of old patterns, releasing resentment, building accountability, and being true to what is important to you. I’ll be talking about ways to do this and how to nurture yourself in the process. It’s not easy and making the choice to practice self-care in this regard is very brave. It is also worth it. An article written by Brianna Wiest sums it up beautifully: “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake., it is making the choice to build a life you don’t routinely have to escape from.”
In preparation for this series, I would like to invite you to make a list of your fears. This could range from fear of rejection, saying “no” to others, failure, etc. We will be referring to this list throughout the series, exploring how they relate to self-care and how they limit our ability to practice it authentically and fully. I will also be talking about strategies to overcome those fears and take small steps towards creating a life you enjoy, rather than plan to escape.
Alissa Hager has a master's degree in counseling and is a licensed professional counselor working with adults, teens, and families in South Carolina.