The importance of looking after yourself emotionally

Every week, Dominique McMullan tries something different. This week: practising self-care

We all need to practise self-care. Photograph: Getty Images

We all need to practise self-care. Photograph: Getty Images

 

This week I practised self-care. Self-care is a zeistgeisty expression which inspires eye rolls. It’s about looking after yourself emotionally. It’s something Irish women, especially Irish mums, aren’t very good it. It all sounds a bit indulgent, like sure wouldn’t we be better if we just got on with it?

It’s become a bit of a dirty word. Some see it as an excuse for millennials to indulge, while instead they get on with working 12-hour days and shouting at people in traffic. Some think it’s emblematic of the “lazy” snowflake generation, that it’s only practised by eco boomers (a very millennial term for, well, millennials) who are more interested in Netflix and Chill – in the literal sense – than doing any actual real work. (Side note: Netflix and Chill can actually be practised in the metaphorical or literal sense as self-care, should you wish.)

But self-care is not decadent. It is about taking responsibility for yourself. Despite being a new buzzword, it is not a new action. It should not be treated reverentially. It is not another stick to beat yourself with. It’s essential.

I’ve heard it described as emotional hygiene. Just like how taking a shower is important and necessary if you want to function in society, taking time to mind your brain and indeed your soul is too.

Yoga stretches

Self-care doesn’t have to be about yoga stretches, glowing skin and long baths. And unlike some health gurus might tell you, you can’t do it wrong. For one person it might mean a face mask, for another it might mean turning off their phone. Maybe it means going for a walk or listening to a podcast. For some people it’s about inspiration boards, meditation and affirmations. But for others it’s about regular sleep, home-cooked food and extra large gin and tonics.

For me, this week, it was about reading. I can become a bit obsessed about getting eight hours of sleep in. My husband laughs when he sees my fingers moving as I’m falling asleep; mentally counting the hours before I have to get up. Last night I threw caution to the wind and stayed up until midnight reading and drinking tea. Wild times, I know. I wasn’t wrecked the next day, and I had fed my soul with a lovely story (A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara). My “self” was cared for and I was a nicer person for it. You there at your desk, you should try it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.