Don’t we all expect our life partners, parents, and friends to care for us? Perhaps, we forget that the first person on the list of these expectations has to be—no points for guessing—you.
Self-care is definitely the first step of being happy in life and according to Dr Sandeep Govil, psychiatrist at Saroj Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi, it is composed of habits and practices which lead to or maintain your emotional well-being in the long run.
“Timely eating, consuming nutritious and balanced food, ensuring good physical health, keeping your surroundings clean and hygienic, exercising regularly—these constructive habits provide you with positive vibrations, keeping you motivated and energetic,” he explains.
However, certain feel-good practices are like drugs. They might give you temporary relief or happiness but only lead to toxicity in the future. And they definitely do not count as self-care. Here are a few to beware of:
1. Trying to please others
It always feels great to see people around you feel happy and feeling special because of something that you did. However, Dr Govil warns against letting it cost you your self-esteem or compromise on your happiness and personal goals.
“Socialize with friends try to spend as much time with them to relax and feel good, but never compromise on your own choices or interests in a bid to do so,” he says.
2. Engaging in retail therapy
We’ve all used shopping as a means to uplift our spirit and feel good about ourselves—especially in times of stress/emotional disturbances.
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And even though retail therapy can boost your mood temporarily, it cannot be counted as a self-care practice simply because in a bad mood, you could end up spending more than your pocket allows–leading to a shortage of money later and causing even more stress than you had before.
“Plan and prioritize the things you need and shop according to your pocket,” Dr Govil suggests.
3. Zoning out and watching television in excess
Binging on web series is our current favourite pastime as a generation. However, cutting yourself away from friends and family and drowning yourself in watching these series will only make you feel lonely in the long run.
“Netflix and other web channels should be sought as relaxation methods only. You can spare some time in a week for a get-together and bond with friends and family,” Dr Govil says.
4. Emotional eating when you’re upset/low
“Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of using it as a means to satisfy their hunger. Turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward is just a response to your increased cortisol levels during stressful times leading to an increase in your appetite,” Dr Govil points out.
“Unfortunately, that anxiety-induced hunger can have long-term consequences in terms of obesity and overall health deterioration,” he warns.
So, instead of giving in to your emotions, think and eat mindfully and focus on the real issue, identify your triggers and stay away from them as much as possible, and exercise regularly to stay in a good mental space and state.
5. Using face masks and other trendy skincare products
Even if you keep aside the fact that the skin products you see your favourite Instagrammers using cost a bomb and offer limited benefits, there is more to self-care than just skincare. While maintaining good hygiene will also give you clear skin, which is a feel-good factor, do not ignore your emotional well-being as your masking regimen is nothing but a stop-gap fix.