What Does Self-Care Actually Mean? Relearning the Definition // Amanda Lappin

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           From the very first day of grad school I have been exposed to the idea of self-care. Self-care is brought up almost weekly. As I have progressed further in grad school, my relationship to self-care has changed. My definition is no longer what it was 3 years ago.

           The way I initially understood self-care was that it is an activity that you do for yourself in order to improve your well-being. To me, that translated into hobbies and eating food that I like. Listening to music? Self-care! Watching movies? Self-care! Hanging with friends? Self-care! These types of self-care helped support me in my graduate school career and stay mentally sane.

            I started to rethink self-care when I realized I was not doing any activities that were self-care for my physical body. I would put off working out because I “didn’t have time” because of my busy grad school schedule. Instead I would sit on the couch eating Cheezits watching Netflix. Because? Self-care! However, I realized that none of my self-care activities were enriching me physically. Netflix served as a nice mind numb after a long day of classes. Talking on the phone with a friend also in grad school helped me feel not so alone and overwhelmed. But was I working out? Going on walks? Eating well? Getting a full night of sleep? No. The answer is a big fat “nope.”

            The activities that I engaged in for self-care were helpful to me in different ways. But my new goal is to try and see self-care as a way to physically enrich my body. Going to bed at a reasonable time and actually getting sleep would be a way to take care of myself. Going on a walk on my lunch break or taking the stairs at work are simple ways that I can get off my booty and into motion (sometimes it feels as if I have fused with my chair). They seem so simple yet I am engaging in none of them. My first priority is school and somehow I had convinced myself that exercise might get in the way of my valued homework time. But if I am not even able to pencil in some time to nourish myself physically, I need to really evaluate how I am spending my time. I hope you other feminists out there are taking care of yourselves both mentally and physically. The world needs us on our A game! And if you see a pale vampire leaving the library squinting into the sunlight attempting to walk/run, give her a smile.


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