Self-care tips: For care, not cure | Margaret Serious – ChicagoNow

Self-care tips: For care, not cure
Four bears (one almost hidden, one barely showing), and the Chicago flag. Photograph by Margaret H. Laing.

I’ve continued to read a book I bought recently, “The *More or Less* Definitive Guide to Self-Care” by Anna Borges, published in 2019, and I plan to spend a few posts describing some things I’m learning from dipping into the book. It’s a sort of index to what people might need, or do, to take care of themselves (as “practicing self-care” might more clearly be described).

As Borges wrote in the introduction, self-care should be a lifestyle, a responsibility to ourselves. Just after that, a bold headline asks What Does “Self-Care Is a Lifestyle” Really Mean, Though?” She admits “Not everything in your life can be self-care — we’d never get anything done — but self-care can permeate most of the corners of your life.” Not that she thinks of life as a square, but she happens to put self-care into four categories: Nourishing your body, Nourishing your mind, Nourishing your relationships, and Nourishing your spirit.

Under another headline, What Self-Care Isn’t, are five categories. (I’ll have a little sulk about that later to nourish my mind.) Borges writes that Self-care isn’t selfish; Self-care isn’t an excuse; Self-care isn’t self-reliance; Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all; and Self-care isn’t a cure.

Despite my wish that there could have been four “isn’ts” to go with the four “ises” (isses?), I keep coming back to that last one: Self-care isn’t a cure. Just as getting enough sleep changes definitions, self-care is what Borges calls “an ever-morphing target.” She advises “getting to know yourself and your needs instead of thinking of cures and fixes, solutions and antidotes.” I need to go for walks to get fresh air and fend off aches in my knees, but walking is not going to cure my knees. I need to take my walks so that my knees feel better, but also so that I can use the walks to get other things done for myself.

That’s why I also keep coming back to the first entry under B in the alphabetized book: Balance. “It’s worth aiming for an equal balance of things that mentally revitalize you and things that tire you out; otherwise, you’ll feel burned out all the time,” Borges wrote, Remember, dear readers, this book came out last year… but personally, I might have bypassed it then. I appreciate that the advice is “worth aiming for an equal balance,” not “you must have an equal balance by doing these things.”

This is the meaning of self-care thorough this book: not fixing something for you or giving you marching orders, but instead giving you tools. Even the ends of some entries give extra tools, in case what’s there isn’t enough. At the end of Balance, I read “See also Prioritize.”

I will see that later. I have a post to publish.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

Take good care of your mind — nourish it with a subscription to Margaret Serious! Type your e-mail address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam-free, and you can opt out at any time.