Embracing the 2 Different Types of Self-Care
Last updated: August 2023
I recently found myself presented with the perfect opportunity for a self-care day. My partner was hosting an old college friend at our place for the weekend, and being the introvert I am, I knew I would need some time alone to recharge. I decided I wanted to spend one day treating myself in ways that I don't ordinarily.
Medical care vs. self-care
When managing my ulcerative colitis, it can often feel like I'm spending so much of my time taking care of myself. There are the doctors' appointments, time spent organizing and taking medications, and paying careful attention to my diet choices. That doesn't even count all the time spent in bathrooms or finding a bathroom.
All of this attention to my physical, medical needs is certainly one form of self-care. At the same time, though, that kind of self-care often feels more like a chore than an actual act of relaxing, recharging self-care.
But I still need the fun self-care!
Taking care of myself and my chronic medical condition ends up leaving me with much less time to actually engage in the fun kind of self-care that's presented and encouraged on social media and within our society more broadly.
It's just one of the costs of chronic illness that others don't always recognize. In fact, it seems that people often think I'm all about self-care because I do have to pay so much attention to just physically taking care of myself.
De-stressing is important with UC and Crohn's
This weekend was my chance to take back some of the peace my illness has cost me and find time for the second type of self-care. I began by coming up with a list of things that make me feel relaxed and rejuvenated. I splurged for a massage (only the third time in my life I'd ever done so), booked a couple beauty appointments I'd been wanting but putting off, and chose a couple local spots to spend time reading and resting.
I let myself really feel the excitement leading up to this day of self-care and tried to be as in-the-moment as I could while enjoying the day. I seldom allow myself the opportunity to truly just be, and having this self-care day reminded me of how important those moments are.
Finding small moments for myself
While I can't afford a massage or beauty treatment and don't always have the time to devote a full day to self-care, I am trying to find more moments and small opportunities to treat myself properly.
Whether it's going to a park and reading for an hour, calling a friend I haven't spoken to in a while, or lighting my favorite candle and bingeing a TV show, I know that I need those care-free self-care times just as much as I need all the self-care time I spend taking medicine, making and attending medical appointments, and figuring out what I can or cannot eat day to day.
It's easy to see one kind of self-care as more necessary than another, but as someone who has seen the heavy toll that stress takes on my body, I know both are equally important.
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