Self Care is Hard Work

In the background, there is a sunset with the words self-care is hardwork. in the foreground, there is a mountain of words saying phrases of self-care. A person climbs the mountain.

Picture by Ashlee Guardado

Self-care is like climbing up a mountain. It’s rewarding in the end.

This weekend, I went to therapy. In fact, for the past four years, nearly every weekend, I’ve gone to therapy. I talk about myself for an hour at a time, addressing my greatest fears, insecurities, and troubles. Sounds fun, right? I wish it were as easy as it sounds. 

My family has grown accustomed to my “post-therapy naps,” in which I melt into my mattress for hours after a session. Personal growth is surprisingly physically taxing. You’d think sitting down and moping about your problems would be an easy and rather relaxing task, but oftentimes it’s the exact opposite. Not to discredit therapy– I think it’s essential for practically everyone. But it’s time we talk about the ugly realities of therapy and self-help.

When you think of therapy, you might picture someone in a room lying on a sofa, a doctor across from them scribbling on a notepad. That image isn’t entirely false; however, I don’t know anyone confident enough to kick their feet back on a therapist’s sofa, nor do I know anyone who finds therapy such a rudimentary task. And that’s because growth is hard work. 

The majority of people don’t partake in long-term therapy, so it makes sense that no one understands the realities of what you actually do. I’ll take it upon myself to demystify this situation; it’s a lot of goal-setting. A lot of “taking the high road” or “being the bigger person.” It’s even more difficult and awkward conversations. So, so, so many conversations. Before therapy, I never realized I didn’t know how to communicate. At all. After therapy, I now realize that most people have no idea how to, either! I also realized something else, a much bigger issue than poor communication skills; people seldom grow because of the challenges that come with self-improvement. 

As humans grow so accustomed to our nature, we become stuck within ourselves. “But that’s just the way I am” or “I’m just that type of person” only works for certain scenarios, and after a while, you must realize you’re making an excuse for yourself. The gift we have in being such complex individuals is that we can listen, learn, and grow. We are never frozen in time as only being one thing. We can put in the work, grow, and become better people, yet so many of us waste it in fear of honesty. 

Chances are you may know someone right now going through something. The best thing you can be for them is supportive, and understanding of whatever journey they are on, and my advice in doing that is to reach out. Have those tough conversations. Be vulnerable. Look inwards and reflect on the traits you admire in others, whether it be their honesty, their carefree attitude, or their work ethic. Take the time to prioritize yourself, and the relationships you value will benefit as a result.

Self-care is played off as an easy task, but it’s not always so black and white. Sometimes, a face mask and your favorite movie are the best cure for a bad week. Other times, whether we like to admit it or not, the best solution for your pain is acknowledging the things you try to avoid and making the difficult decisions to better yourself.