Fumble contributor Charlotte Hart on why looking after your health and wellbeing is anything but boring
I’m here to make a case for self-care. To talk through the wheres, whos, and hows of looking after the one person who’s always with you: yourself.
It’s a simple enough concept: deliberately and consciously choosing to look after your mental wellbeing. It’s also a necessary, unselfish way to help you all deal with the normal ups and downs of life.
Looking after your mental health doesn’t mean never considering anyone else, and never having any problems. It also doesn’t mean you have to feel a certain level of sadness, anxiety or exhaustion before you can start effectively managing it. Self-care is having the necessary processes and boundaries in place to support your wellbeing, and actively carrying them out.
Despite the apparent simplicity of self-care, it has taken me many years to master (and I’m still learning). I have found, though, that splitting it into two main areas can make things more manageable: fun self-care and boring self-care.
Now, hear me out. I use ‘boring’, because all self-care is necessary, but it’s not always enjoyable. This type of activity can be anything from completing your homework to attending the dentist appointment you’ve been putting off. I recently made the choice to get a coil fitted as a means of managing both my contraceptive and menstrual life. Despite being the bottom of my free time activities list, I feel liberated since sorting it out. And I did it for myself. (There is an Instagram hashtag for #boringselfcare if you need more convincing.)
‘Fun’ self-care – the more outwardly pleasurable, soothing category of things that fall under the self-care umbrella – can be easier to identify. They are also just as vital. I find spending time alone, putting on a face-mask and playing guitar are activities that almost literally soothe my introverted soul.
Setting this boundary means that when I need to socialise with others (be it for work, play or something else) I feel ready. Knowing my boundaries also allows me to be more open where appropriate, which is so important. Self-care is as much about involving other people in your life as it is about what you choose to do with your time. If you feel emotionally cared for by talking to friends, family, a counsellor… those are all valid things to do.
Managing your wellbeing can also take less tangible forms. It can be the use of positive self-talk, where you choose to take your inner monologue and make it a bit more gentle. It can be making an effort to drown out the ‘noise’ of others and taking time to consider what you would want from your life if no-one else was weighing in with their opinion. Whatever it is that you feel you need to nourish yourself, do that (and don’t give yourself a hard time if it doesn’t always go to plan).