My Opinion of Online Self Care Discourse

I have not done this kind of post in a while. This is not a post about what's going on with me, but a post about problematic discourse in the online mental health community.

The above comic is from the artist Margaret of on Instagram. It is literally the only comic about self care that I've ever seen that I actually like.

I will not post images here, but the majority of self care comics really rub me the wrong way. For those of you unfamiliar, "self care," is a term that is popular in the mental health community that essentially means doing actions that take care of yourself which will ultimately aid in your mental health. It is a topic that is popularly portrayed in comics, and I have been irritated by every iteration I've seen on the topic.

 My issue with the discourse on self care is that virtually all of it is about taking a time out from the stressful aspects of one's life and is talked about in a universal way. Common examples of this are taking a bubble bath (see above), eating comfort food, staying in bed for the day, relaxing by watching television, etc. These acts of self care are not problematic in themselves. Sometimes you need to disengage, take a break, and chill for a day. The problem is that these are all the kinds of examples I have seen portrayed online. Because these are practically the universal forms of self care discussed, the aspect of doing these things in moderation is lost, and seeing them consistently over and over reads to me as people forming habits of avoiding one's issues. This compounds stress because you are not dealing with it and makes your problems worse in the long run.

The reason I love the comic above is because it is shows a combination of both taking a moment to decompress, but also shows the author actively combatting their problems (I am not sure of their gender so I am using gender neutral pronouns). If you follow Margaret on Instagram you know that the source of their stress is their job. You see them addressing the problem by trying to find a better job. It also shows them taking the night off to relax by listening to a Harry Potter podcast. It is a mix of self care methods, and both are important. It also specifically applies to Margaret, which is also important. I think that doing work that is specific to the author for issues on mental health are far more productive and relatable to the larger discussion in mental health that the bullshit, "everybody experiences this," comics that are EVERYWHERE (to be fair I may be biased).

But, tldr: Margaret is actively working towards solving the cause of their stress, which is vital to ultimately solving it. The culture of avoidance I see on social media drives me NUTS, especially since the majority of the audience is teens and people in their early twenties dealing with anxiety that can be led astray by these messages.

I'm not sure how to end this besides saying a major way to improve your mental health is to confront and deal with issues that are hurting you (assuming it's in within your control). Another way to practice self care is to do basic maintenance like going to therapy, exercising regularly, eating well (one of my major issues), taking meds if needed (and you have access), etc.

Okay, rant over. I might do a comic on this for my Everything's Fine book that I hope to make one day, maybe. 

Thanks for reading!