why we've got "self care" wrong (feat. a checklist for hard times)

“Self care” has become one of those buzz terms you hear people throw out in conversation and you’re not entirely sure the person knows what it means. Sure, we see the influencers and youtubers talking all about self care and how the face mask you’re about to put on means you’re taking part in it.

The assumed meaning around self care has become that of “treat yourself” and while beauty treatments or fancy smoothies might also be forms of self care, I think our perception around this particular social phenomenon could be helping us out in a much more meaningful way. After all, face masks and going to the gym are technically luxuries. Though treating ourselves is important, sometimes true self care means doing things that aren’t attractive, easy, or even fun, but doing the things that are essential to our well-being.


Self care can mean having a good cry. Self care can mean prioritizing your medication, even though you hate the side effects. Self care can mean knocking down emotional walls that have built up over decades that are keeping you from real relationships.

Self care can mean drinking a glass of water (because hey, literally essential to our existence-although, maybe water is really also a luxury because, well—Flint, anyone)? At its ugly times, self care can mean calling someone to water your plants or feed your pet because your mental illness or disability is making it hard to get out of bed today.

See, self care is an entire spectrum and I find that we often fixate on the more socially acceptable ways to care for ourselves (enter face masks) than to practice the harder stuff. We are all in need of self care, every one of us.

With that fact in mind, I want to tell you that we are all deserving of feeling cared for, most of all by ourselves. Self-care is a vital ingredient to self love, so in essence, can we really love ourselves if we don’t care for ourselves?

I’ve included a printable to-do list for those times when self care is just another chore to complete. When we’re going through hard things, needs often go out the window. When self care tasks are broken down, they seem easier. Feel free to keep this list in a place where you can be reminded to do a check-in with yourself (or pin it on pinterest). No, a face mask is not on the list, but some other easy (ish) things to do are.

Prioritize your self care, y’all. You deserve to.