This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

It's Not Self-Care If You're Just Avoiding Responsibility

Self-care only works if you're actually caring for yourself and not just letting yourself off the hook.
Woman Relaxing On Sofa With Glass Of Wine After Work
monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images
Woman Relaxing On Sofa With Glass Of Wine After Work

Recently, I’ve noticed an alarming trend in my life. I started using the umbrella of “self-care” to excuse myself of what is actually more appropriately called “profound laziness.”

Listen, I spend a lot of time on Instagram, and I have made the mistake of frequenting the “suggested accounts” page that Instagram has algorithmified (new word alert!) to tailor a feed based on my personality, age range, demographic, interests and preoccupations.

Without fail I get “suggested” two kinds of accounts ― the first being accounts of famous drag queens, which if you know me at all makes a ton of sense. I watch a lot of Rupaul’s Drag Race and use the term “eleganza” more than I probably should.

The second most suggested account is that of the young female lifestyle bloggers, taste makers and generally dope chicks. These accounts are the dangerous ones. These gals are the queens of self-care. They have eaten clean, lived clean and colon-cleansed their way into my feed and into my brain.

Recently I’ve done what I like to call “creative restructuring” in my life. This essentially means bailing on all the projects I’ve put the most time and effort into over the last several years in pursuit of things that fit my creative voice and needs more immediately.

Long-term, it is a great step for me as an artist. Short-term, it feels like hot, sweaty emotional garbage. It has left me filled with FOMO and paralyzed by fear. This highly emotional state has left me especially susceptible to the allure of self-care. Maybe if I light enough expensive candles and have a cheeky glass of Rose and watch more of the Gilmore Girls revival it will fill up the parts of my brain that are having a freakin’ meltdown.

“Self-care only works if you're actually caring for yourself and not just letting yourself off the hook.”

Now, I cannot and will not blame these beautiful young women on Instagram for my own shortcomings. They, much like me, are living their truth and finding what works for them. Self-care is a legit-as-hell and important way to maintain your mental health, and keep you motivated as an artist and a human being on this earth. I can only blame my “Marcel the Shell” style downtrodden shrimpyness for misusing the umbrella of self-care to cover up my own fears.

So, I’ve made myself some guidelines in order to hold myself accountable for when I’m self-caring and when I’m just Grey Gardens-ing.

1. Saying ‘no’ to things...

Is self-care: when you don’t have time to give something the attention it truly deserves/it would distract you from other, more important projects.

Is profound laziness: when it’s really a question of it taking a long time to get there by transit and there’s an Uber surge right now.

2. Juicing...

Is self-care: when you have legitimate intestinal tract issues and/or are concerned about your overall GI health.

Is profound laziness: when you’d rather take a couple of big poops than exercise and eat healthy.

3. Listening to the new Solange album...

Is self-care: when you use it to zen out/empower yourself on the subway

Is profound laziness: when you take the day off work so you can really “get” Solange’s message.

4. Having chips for dinner...

Is self-care: when ― ugh, be honest with yourself, Hannah! This is never self-care. Eat some damn roughage, girl!

Is profound laziness: when you just love salty, crunchy and can’t be bothered to go grocery shopping.

5. Taking a ‘me’ day...

Is self-care: when you are tired/sick/have accomplished all current creative pursuits/need to do laundry/need to recalibrate your introverted soul.

Is profound laziness: when it’s kinda rainy and a little bit colder out than you thought it was going to be, so you figure you may as well just stay in.

6. Buying yourself a $6 coffee...

Is self-care: when you are in a place economically that you can Treat Yo’self!

Is profound laziness: when your French press still has yesterday’s grounds in the bottom and that seems like a bit of a chore.

7. Sharing a selfie...

Is self-care: when you want to celebrate your inherent dopeness with the world!

Is profound laziness: when you’ve stopped telling yourself how dope you are, so now you need the Internet to fill that hole in your heart. (Woah, Hannah, chill... that was a bit too real.)

8. Deleting social media apps from your phone...

Is self-care: when you want/need a break from the social media/fake news/Trumpiness bombardment that is your life.

Is profound laziness: when that means you now have an excuse to stay home, because you can only access all that information from your laptop now and you don’t want to miss any hot and juicy goss.

9. Carefully curating what and who you spend your time and money on...

Is self-care: when it helps to eliminate some of the unnecessary noise in your life so you can focus on what brings you joy.

Is profound laziness: when you’re turning opportunities and people down so that you can reject them before they can reject you.

10. Ugly crying:

Is self-care: when you just gotta let it out.

Is profound laziness: when, well, you just gotta let it out.

If you are anything like me and you’ve been quietly sweeping your fears and lethargy under the self-care rug, I encourage you to take stock of the motivations behind it. Self-care only works if you’re actually caring for yourself and not just letting yourself off the hook.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the best advice on self care and acceptance I’ve ever received...

Can I get an amen?

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