As I sit here with a herniated disc and pain in my right leg that I would not wish upon my worst enemy, I can’t help but think about self care and how I ended up here. Self care is the latest trend in wellness and is presented as yet another thing that we have to master but should require little to no effort. I’m confused but this messaging and often end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted – which is the opposite of what self care is supposed to do. Is it possible that we can do self care wrong? I am going to answer for myself – Yes.

I googled self care and came across a plethora of definitions all essential saying the same thing. Self care is the practice of maintaining our overall heath, managing stress and burnout and avoiding the doctor by engaging in healthy habits.

Social media has done a lot to promote the self care movement. It has become a forum to spread positive messages urging followers to rest and rejuvenate, and has helped de-stigmatize mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Its ok to not be ok! What a relief! I no longer have to pretend to be in a good mood and hide behind a fake smile. However, thats not entirely true. Its ok if I’m not ok but only if I’m being positive about it and focusing on the bright side. I get it – dwelling is not helpful and is definitely not a way to manage our self care. I believe that we can control our reactions to situations and chose to be happy. I struggle with the authenticity of always living in the positive. Is that really “not being ok”?

I also struggle with the authenticity of the self care movement and how it can be portrayed but the many influencers (who I forget are much younger than me) that fill our feeds. Find your purpose. Live your truth. Say no. Say yes to things that scare you. Throw out diets and enjoy the donut. Each green juice and drink less alcohol. Enjoy movement.. Face masks. Jade rollers. Puppies. Sleep. Lots of sleep. Get an oil diffuser and a Himalayan salt lamp. See a therapist. Meditate and practice gratitude. CBD oil and ice baths. Breathing exercises.

I believe in many of these items and practices. I think “no” is the most powerful word. I love face masks, donuts and vegetables. Exercise makes me feel alive and is the best part of my day. Gratitude and acceptance has been a blessing for me this year. I get to bed early, I drink a lot of water, and I even use an oil diffuser, but none of these items of practices have cured my burnout, anxiety or prevented this injury. So here I am, a jade roller and a bottle of face oil later and I’ve finally realized a few things: I will never have the dewey skin I so desperately crave, I need to take more breaks to detox from my phone and most ironically, I’ve missed the most vital point of self care – I didn’t listen to my body.

So what is self care? Giving yourself grace, resting when you need to, doing things that bring you joy and throwing out what does not, and living an authentic life.