In the age of COVID-19, self-isolation, and inevitable uncertainty, the topics of self- development and self-care have come up for my patients more than they might have in “normal life.” (What’s even normal anymore?
While we are all staying home, we may have fewer obligations, or more time to fill. Simultaneously, we may be attempting to distract ourselves from all the bad news surrounding us, easing our inevitable anxiety, or trying to use this time to better ourselves in some way. These goals all hold some importance on a case-to-case basis, but it's important to accurately distinguish between two similar but different ideas here: self-development and self-care.
Self-care is just that — doing something to take care of yourself. It may include a relaxing activity like yoga, a bath, reading a book, or something that helps someone else clear their mind, like going for a walk outside.
Self-care is a practice that aims to help self-soothe but may look different for every person. For example, someone may consider watching a favorite TV show to be self-care, while for someone else, this might not feel like self-care, and more so represent them falling off of their self-care regimen that includes showering, making a cup of coffee, and chatting with a spouse. There is no blanket example of self-care, but there are certain goals it should ideally fulfill.
Self-care should be deliberate. It should be something you plan to do for the sole goal of taking care of yourself, and nothing else. At the same time, self-care should hopefully make you feel a little bit better during or afterward. Self-care should aim to improve your emotional well-being, and therefore elicit positive emotions rather than negative. If you try something as a practice of self-care and it doesn’t feel good, try something else!