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Self-care is important but be aware

Selfcare is important but be aware. Can too much self-care stunt our progress? Some would say, there's such thing as too much of a good thing.

Self-care is important. but be aware. Can too much self-care stunt our progress? Some would say there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

In this day and age, it should go without saying that selfcare is essential for one’s wellbeing. Whether you have a mental illness or not, taking time for yourself can help manage the stressors of everyday life.

While it’s true that life can beat the heck out of you, it’s equally true that we allow it. With that said, there are many stressors beyond our control: work, traffic, how people respond to you, etc. But when was the last time you did something you love? How long has your passion been sitting there in the back of your mind, collecting dust? You not only have the power to answer these questions, you have control of what action you take. You can take up the thing you love again, or not. (The latter likely is the less healthy of the two.)

For many, the answer probably goes “Oh God, I can’t remember the last time I read a book.” Of course, the preferred downtime method varies depending on who you are, but the effects of deprioritizing time for oneself are similar. Increasing levels of anxiety and depression are two of the most common effects.

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So, for me, the question becomes “What is driving this self-neglect?” In my view, the answer is guilt – at least in part. We feel guilty if we say no to someone, especially to those we love. It can feel as if we are doing something wrong when we say no. And I would argue that yes, we are indeed doing something wrong. We are needlessly punishing ourselves for the sake of others. To say, “I need time for me” isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite of wrong. (This of course assumes that you aren’t too involved with your meeting your own needs all of the time! As with many things in life, there is a balance.)

“The word “No” can be transformative.

Selfcare is important but be aware

Selfcare is important but be aware

While there can be no doubt that we run around, fulfilling the needs of everyone around us – boss, kids, partners, etc. – and that we often take a backseat doing it, there also can be such a thing as too much self-care. For example, sometimes, looking after yourself can involve taking time in bed because of your depression. However, how long is healthy? Where does one draw the line between self-care and damaging oneself?

That’s the very reason I say self-care is important – but be aware. When you are depressed, you can fall victim to its exhausting powers, and stay in bed for too long.

More about self-care here

I can’t say what is too long for one person or another. In saying that, I do feel like there is a limit to taking care of oneself. Afterall, a period of time, self-care could stifle recovery. Why? Well, as far as I can tell, too much of a good thing, can become a crutch not a tool for healing.

To be clear, self-care should always be ongoing, I feel however, that the proper type of continual care for yourself includes things like good diet, appropriate levels of exercise, connection with others, and so on. I do all these things, but I am constantly evaluating whether I have become the only thing in my life that matters. Hahaha! Hey, it can happen.

“I set limits”

I have major depressive disorder. This mental-health condition can put me down and out several times a year. Thankfully, knowing my limits has helped me minimize depression’s mindset. While knowing my limits is important, it’s equally important that I set limits within a depressive state themselves. How? Well, I give myself permission to go to bed, forget about the outside world and let the exhaustion overtake me.

But is this self-care? For me, the answer is yes – but only because I set an upper limit of three days. After that, I roll myself on the floor and start my day. (Note: when I do this, I always feel better.) If I used self-care as an excuse to keep myself in bed longer, I would slip in a sea of darkness. On the road to mental wellness, this would be the equivalent of turning around and going back the way I came. I don’t know about you, but I never want to go backwards.

The takeaway? Many of the coping skills we deploy to help us win the daily struggle have their own limitations. Not enough self-care? We can edge ever closer to a disability. Too much self-care? It can allow our mental illness to hold us captive. In my view, it’s all about finding a healthy balance.

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“Our goal should always be to strive for the happy stretches that we are blessed with. That’s why self-care is so important”

– Jonathan Arenburg

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Jonathan Arenburg.
Jonathan Arenburg.

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental-health blogger, writer, and published author, appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Projects Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental Health Talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has written for the mental-health advocacy organization Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental-wellness journey while helping others along the way.

Educated as an addictions counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years to working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.

He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.

His book “The Road To Mental Wellness” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one’s life, right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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