top of page

Redefining Self-Care: Myths and Insights of Looking After Ourselves.

Returning to school can be an uncertain and stressful period for many of us. Whether you're a student who is about to embark on a new journey or returning to school, this time of the year is full of experiences. To cope with this transition and school stressors, “self-care” may be a topic of conversation.

Self-care - essentially the practices to care for our wellbeing - may sound like a simple concept. However, we are surrounded by messages and ideas of what “good self-care” looks like, which in many cases may present a skewed and inaccessible notion of it.


We may question ourselves, where would I find the time? How would I afford it? Was I practicing self-care correctly if I still felt tired? But simple practices can go a long way in refreshing our minds and bodies. Stress is not required (though often associated) for a well-deserved break.


Self-care doesn't strive for perfection and is not exclusive to specific practices.


Self-care encompasses more than just tending to our mental health; it involves caring for our entire being, holistically. It doesn't need to be a luxury only few can enjoy.

To aid your comprehension of self-care - here are some common misconceptions and our take on it:


Myth: Self-care is only for individuals with “poor” mental health.

Fact: Self-care applies to everyone, and it can include doing basic life functions that we all do. Brushing your teeth? That's self-care. Prioritizing sleep by going to bed early? Also self-care. Even singing in the shower or eating a nice meal after a long day at school can be a form of self-care (CMHA, 2022)


While self-care is often associated with mental health, it encompasses all our needs and what bring us joy as individuals.


Myth: Self-care requires spending money.

Fact: Absolutely not! If you would like to pay more attention to yourself and that feels good for you, that is totally fine, but keep in mind that self-care can be as simple as taking a walk or calling a friend.


It has become a common misconception to think that indulging in a lavish day at a spa or spoiling oneself is labeled as "good self-care". Although not entirely untrue, these aren’t exclusive ways to caring for ourselves.


Myth: Self-care is solely about activities that bring pleasure.

Fact: Not necessarily. Sometimes, self-care involves actions that feel unpleasant in the moment but that will have long-term benefits. Tasks like cleaning your bathroom or having a tough conversation fall into this category.


Caring after ourselves can involve being mindful of our nutritional needs, setting boundaries, exercising, or even managing our finances. While indulging in these activities, it is important to be compassionate with ourselves.


Myth: Regular self-care guarantees good mental health.

Fact: No and it is complicated. Achieving good mental health isn't solely an individual responsibility, but also may vary according to our surrounding and environment we live in.


Self-care isn't a magical solution for mental health concerns. For example, someone grieving a loss can't dispel their sorrow with scented candles, or baking banana bread won't erase the environment-induced anxiety. While self-care is within our control, it's not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Sometimes, it simply cushions the blow of a tough day.


As well, mental health, like all aspects of health, live on a continuum. We don’t work for a specific, stagnant destination. We fluctuate, we are human.


Myth: Self-care is a “feminine” activity.

Fact: The media often perpetuates ideas of what “femininity” looks like, and sometimes these can overlap with common self-care practices such as going to a spa, yoga, or nutrition. However, self-care is for EVERYONE, no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, or age.


Myth: Self-care must be earned.

Fact: We may think that rewarding ourselves with an enjoyable activity after finishing many assignments is a way to motivate ourselves; however, what happens when we don’t achieve our expected goals? What happens with all the hard work we put into it?


Achieving balance between school, work, and life is not easy for students, but we all deserve a break to take care of our health. Consider separating self-care from productivity, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Sometimes, self-care entails something as simple as taking a nap or soaking up sunlight during busy days. Self-care provides the nourishment and energy needed to accomplish great things.


Myth: Self-care is optional.

Fact: Yes and no. While it is optional, it strongly encouraged as it can be refreshing and help us achieve balance among all our needs. Prioritizing self-nurturing and rest is a human need. Carving out "me time" in our schedule is essential to prevent burnout, whether personally or professionally.


 

We're multifaceted beings, composed of various aspects. Consider everything that defines you. Self-care encompasses caring for your mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, practical, and intellectual needs. Remember that it is not selfish to fulfill any of your needs.


To help you carve out time for self-care and find out what strategies suit you best, HERE is a printable guide that may help:


You wish to learn more about self care? Check out the following link:




 

About the Author


Andrea (She/Her)


Hello everyone! My name is Andrea, and I am the Health and wellness program assistant. I am currently finishing my last year of studies in the Interdisciplinary health program, focusing in health policy, plan, and evaluation (BHsc), in addition to a minor in Asian studies and languages. Some of my interests in the area include women’s health, the intersectionality in our healthcare system, and promoting health literacy. In my free time I love to explore Manitoba, especially new restaurants as a foodie. I also enjoy fishing, music, and rating movies on my spare time.

bottom of page