Mind your mind: Self-care is hard

As students attending one of the top universities in the world, we often walk the line between what it means to be a committed student versus flirting with self-endangerment. We sacrifice our own well-being, fail to take a step back when we most need it and romanticize drinking three cups of coffee a day. Sometimes, we even thrive on unresolved inner turmoil and sleepless nights.

I don’t feel entitled to be the authority on a subject as important as self-care, but I can argue that self-care is a daily practice, an ongoing process and different for everyone. Although the line between self-care and selfishness can be somewhat blurred, the difference between the two is crystal clear — being selfish is unnecessary and taking care of yourself needs to be made a priority.

To me, when anticipating a bad day, self-care means putting on your favourite pair of underwear anyway when you get out of bed. It means cultivating mindfulness, embracing self-respect and being afraid of reaching out for help... but doing so anyway.

It’s knowing when you need retail therapy versus real psychotherapy — the latter being more expensive, but definitely more useful than the new pair of shoes you got yesterday.

Self-care means honouring the fact that it’s okay not to feel okay and then making conscious, active choices in the hopes of feeling better.

And, I’m not going to lie, sometimes self-care is making all the right choices over the fun and still ending up feeling like absolute shit. It’s framing every decision you make by asking yourself, “Will this bring me short-term pleasure or long-term happiness?” It’s the difference between pursuing activities that promote instant gratification versus making intentional choices that may not make you feel good on the spot, but will definitely benefit your sense of well-being in the long run.

It’s hard. It’s fucking hard, and it requires time, effort and determination. But it’s also an important part of finding happiness, especially when you’re striving to become the best version of yourself.

What self-care looks like is different for everybody, but one of the most empowering forms of self-care is responsibility. Self-care is about choosing how I treat myself and how I let others treat me, facing my fears and setting clear boundaries, and cultivating an attitude towards my life that says, “I am responsible for myself, my choices and my overall health.”