I've been seeing some posts flying around social media about what self-care is and is not. So I wanted to take some moments to offer up my perspective on the subject, both as a practitioner and as a person who struggles with anxiety, depression, and a bevy of other issues -- none of which are clear cut or easy to cope with. If you haven't seen these posts, they usually insist that taking a bath or getting a massage, etc. is not a self care practice. While I don't disagree with the majority of the things said, I absolutely cannot get wholly behind a post which excludes simple ways to help your body through its very real crisis. An anxiety attack is a crisis. Depression is a crisis. An autoimmune flair is a crisis. While the work we do is not the end all be all of self care, its benefits should not be admonished.
Using an analogy I first heard from Gordon White of Rune Soup -- Let's say you're walking across the street and suddenly you collapse with a heart attack. There is oncoming traffic, in fact, a big bus heading your way. At that moment, you are dying of two things: the heart attack and the bus. YES, you must take care of your heart, but if your body stays in the road, you will be crushed. At that point, the heart attack no longer matters because your immediate need was not attended to.
And this is the crux of the problem. Your immediate needs do matter. Getting a massage doesn't mean you no longer have fibromyalgia, but when you're in pain, alleviating that pain (physical or otherwise) even in a small way can be instrumental in your overall recovery. Reflexology, for instance, is helpful in returning the body to homeostasis -- its natural state -- by way of assisting the recipient in achieving deep relaxation. I do not propose, as a body work and energy healing practitioner, that I have the answer to your crisis -- nor have I ever witnessed another practitioner doing this -- but we can help. We DO help. We do this by offering safe, positive, human touch -- something so integral to our well being. We do this by offering you an hour away from the problem -- which sometimes allows room for clarity, or for the simple act of listening to your body and choosing a next step. We help by offering you the tools that have helped during our own times of physical, mental, and emotional crisis. We help by offering our expertise as practitioners in our many varied fields. And we do all of this while still supporting you in your personal choices on your path to recovery. What we do is not a mere luxury -- it can be a life raft when you're just hanging on.
Every person is different and each of us deserves to be seen as the individuals we are. Though we may have the same diagnosis or issue, the cause is often very different, and may require different pathways for recovery or even simple maintenance. Each person must choose this for themselves -- one size does not fit all. Self care takes many forms -- from permanent changes to small acts of self love. Perhaps then, we can promote the many methods of self care in a way that doesn't denigrate an industry dedicated to supporting the well being of humans everywhere.