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Is There Such a Thing as 'Too Much' Self-Care?

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I am a huge fan of self-care. Ninety percent of my life is spent practicing self-care. I am a self-care queen.

Self-care has been a huge player in improving my mood while dealing with depression and anxiety over the past two years. But over time, I’ve come to question my decisions when it comes to self-care. When I am feeling down, I attempt to make myself feel better by watching some Netflix, eating a food I really love, staying home to relax or listening to music. But I tend to do this a lot.

For example, in college, there is so much to do. There is studying to get done, people to hang out with and places to go. When I get overwhelmed, I practice self-care. I pick a night in over going out with friends. I order a pizza instead of making myself dinner. I binge watch Netflix shows instead of do my work.

These are great ways to keep my stress levels down, but I feel like there is a threshold. There is a point when it stops being self-care and starts becoming self-destructive. One night at home instead of going out with friends turns into every night at home. One night of ordering pizza instead of making myself dinner turns into a diet of takeout and fast food. One day of binge watching instead of doing work turns into missing assignments and poor grades on exams.

I feel like I’m in this constant argument with myself. Part of me is saying, “This is good. Your mind is healing and your body needs rest. Relax, stay in, don’t worry about anything.” But another part of me is saying, “What are you doing?! You need to live your life, get out of bed, go hang out with people and cook your own damn food.”

Maybe what I’m doing isn’t self-care at all, but just me poorly coping with my depression and anxiety. Regardless, all of those behaviors started off as a form of self-care. I question my self-care behaviors because I feel like I have missed out on so much these past two years in college. I stopped hanging out with my friends or doing my work because I felt like I needed to control my depression and anxiety before I did anything else. I felt like I needed to focus on myself before I could focus on others. It turned into an excuse to stay away from people and from responsibilities. In the end, I missed out. I stopped living my life to the fullest.

I know I shouldn’t live my life dwelling on the past and what I should or should not have done. I can only move forward. I will continue to practice self-care as long as it serves me positively and learn to be aware when it starts to turn into a bad habit.

Self-care is necessary when dealing with mental illness, in my opinion. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you be expected to take care of friends, family, responsibilities or anything at all? Taking time for self-care is not selfish. It is admirable, smart and one of the best things you can do for yourself during a time of need.

So, is there such a thing as “too much” self-care? I’m genuinely not sure. I know that’s not very helpful, but I think each individual has to find their own balance. I believe people should balance taking time for self-reflection and taking time to go out of their comfort zone.

While I question some of my self-care behaviors, I am a strong advocate for self-care because I believe too much self-care is always better than no self-care at all.

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Thinkstock photo via  Anna_Om.

Originally published: June 7, 2017
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