Self care has a problem. And it’s not just that chocolate cake and bubble bath aren’t going to do anything for you in the long run (well, maybe if it’s a really good chocolate cake…).
It’s that word ‘self’.
One of the most damaging ideas in our culture is individualism. It’s the idea that what makes you happy is luxuriating in the first person – soaking unashamedly in me, myself and I.
It will make you anything but happy. And so here we are, living in the age of loneliness.
A human being cannot thrive in isolation. We can’t even survive in isolation. And I’m saying this as a fully paid-up member of Extreme Introverts Inc. My idea of a great night out is generally speaking to not have one. But even I recognise that without connection – real connection – I’m finished.
We are made for community. We are made for each-otherness. We are a web, not single strands dangling of our own accord.
We cannot care for our selves alone.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for cultivating healthy personal habits. Having lived with clinical depression and anxiety, I know how important it is to take practical steps to look after your own wellbeing. But top of that list has to be to move past the parameters of your self, to extend beyond the dimension of your own being – whether that be reaching out for help or reaching out to help.
You can make your day by making someone else’s. You can care for yourself by extending care to another. You can heal yourself by becoming medicine for someone else.
The best kind of self care is ‘us’ care.
It’s not easy during lockdown. We have to make even more of an effort to cultivate community and each-otherness. But it’s worth it.