Cheers to May.
Where the warmth of the sun begins to whisper the promises of the approaching summer haze. When most of our nation’s students stressfully sit for those dreaded final exams and parents scramble to finalize their children’s summer schedules. When we bear witness to Mental Health Awareness Month. Break out your green, y’all.
While the bulk of my profession centers around mental health awareness, I appreciate any excuse to increase the focal point on emotional well-being. In all honesty, it is one of the most neglected forms of health. Our current societal systems keep us stuck in the neglectful chokeholds our mentality suffers from. “Sick days” are dedicated to the times your nose leaks and your fevers spike. Most bosses smirk at the thought of someone claiming one of their precious personal days for something other than physically life concerning.
“Self care! Self care!” our world proclaims.
To be matter of fact, that is all quite lame.
Self-care goes far beyond bubble baths, chocolate, and long walks at dusk.
Self-nurturement is sitting with it. All of it. The emotional experiences that are the consequence of being human. Constructing invisible boundaries that keep our emotionality safe and our mentality secure. Learning how to say no without the influence of guilt. Carving out time dedicated soulfully to what lights our fulfillment on fire. Hitting the pause button when tragedy strikes defined by our own realities and holding space for the discomfort of the sorrow that wreaks havoc on our shattered hearts.
Self-care is perhaps one of the bravest and most uncomfortable forms of self-love we can sit with. This notion mimics the alterations of many Disney storylines. Something difficult to sit with has transformed into something heartwarming and fluffy. I won’t ruin it for you but go take a peek at the original Pinocchio or Cinderella stories. There is little to no “sparkle” within the narratives. It seems society took a look at the truth of self-care and did it’s best to shift away from the hard stuff. Instead, they added more bubbles, more exercises, and more “frills” until the discomfort was drowned out by the pretty.
But here’s the thing.
Self-care isn’t supposed to be pretty and wrapped up in a perfect bow. It’s meant to be messy, uncomfortable, and downright awful at times. Sorry to burst all the pretty bubbles.
We raise awareness for mental health to cultivate realistic conversations about what it takes to truthfully care for ourselves when life gets hairy. Fairytales are great escapes, but that’s all they are good for. Life will get hard and messy, and we will have to rise up and sit with the hard stuff. This is how we show ourselves the love and compassion each and every one of us deserve.
Sit with it folks.
All of it.
It’s not there to break you. Resist the urge to run from the discomfort. Bubble baths cannot dissolve our need for emotional processing. Chocolate cannot satiate the hunger for authenticity or connection. Walks at dusk cannot erase the pain from loss our hearts long to explore and make meaning from.
This is how we truly heal.