There are several correlations I’ve found between my undergrad training as an actor, and my experiences now entering the social work field. But both careers rely heavily on a good self-care regimen. Both roles require the “player” to give and reveal so much of who they are, and absorb the emotions of others in a way that is simply not possible without self-care. And truly, every human can benefit from this act, and needs to in order to sustain and thrive. This is why I place self-care at the crux of my message.
So what does self-care mean? I’ve always subscribed that a good self-care routine is simply whatever makes one feel taken care of, relaxed, and recharged. But it wasn’t until lately that I started to question that thought. A recent session with my therapist found my griping over my lifelong struggle to combat my deep-seated laziness. And like every single therapist before her, she followed up saying she didn’t quite buy that laziness was the issue at hand. This led to the realization that I often use self-care and my need to decompress as an excuse to stay in bed whenever possible – brain dead – watching Netflix.
Don’t get me wrong: I firmly, firmly believe we need that time to completely turn our brains off, when our lives (and technology) are keeping us constantly tuned in and running. But when this goes on for 3, 4 hours on end every night, and even starts to cut into valuable sleeping time, this is not self-care. This is avoidance.
So what does a good self-care routine look like? My therapist illuminated the important distinction between passive and active self-care. And I personally believe it’s essential to incorporate a healthy dose of each. That total veg-out Netflix session is passive, and after a certain extent, is no longer necessary, nor beneficial. I’ve always detested the belief that exercise has to take place in a self-care routine, as I am not an athletic, nor particularly fit individual (sorry mom!). Intellectually, I understand the correlation between exercise and endorphins, and I don’t think that should be overlooked. But I want to clarify that the term “active self-care” does not necessarily mean you have to literally be active. For me, active self-care includes painting, writing, seeing theatre, and popping into the occasional dance class. It’s an endeavor that requires action and steps, keeping your mind and body engaged, while still refilling your well. More power to you if that involves going to the gym, but don’t beat yourself up if, like me, that just doesn’t do it for you.
So yes, I still consider self-care to be a wholly personalized and flexible experience; though I now add the caveat that passive should not surpass active. Find what brings you joy and peace, and make time to give your mind and body the care it deserves.