Sunday 22 May 2022

Nerd Church - The Assimilation of Self-Care

Warning: this post discusses mental health problems and stigma

Disclaimer time!: I am not any kind of medical, mental health, or psychological professional; I'm a chick with a blog.

'The Assimilation of Self-Care' in techno-style font, with an instagram-y background of flowers draped across a book

The system sees something and seeks to assimilate it.

Capitalism is a Borg Queen.

(I may've been watching too much Star Trek: Picard, but the statement still stands. 😅)

'Stunning 8K-resolution meditation app
In honor of the revolution, it's half-off at the Gap'

- Bo Burnham, That Funny Feeling 

Self-Care does NOT mean candles or baths or face masks.

Don't get me wrong: There's nothing WRONG with using candles or baths or face masks as a type of self-care - nothing AT ALL. 

Don't let anyone tell you any different. 

But it's like saying all food is pasta. 

It's simply not true. Pasta is a type of food, not the only type of food. And some people don't like pasta (...I've heard,) or just don't feel like eating for every single meal.

More and more, I'm seeing self-care presented in specific ways - usually as surface-level stuff that doesn't actually mean much at all.

Again: IF THESE THINGS WORK FOR YOU THEN I'M 100% OK WITH THAT - you have to do what works for YOU, that's the whole goddamn point.

...This stuff tends to come with a heaping helping of 'buy this thing!' or 'subscribe to this!' Because money is the point, right? Happiness is bad for business - unless it's the type of happiness we're selling you.

(For more on the commodification of self-care, I recommend this post by Omy on Medium.)

'Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?'

- Matt Haig, Reasons To Stay Alive 

But people with mental health problems (hi!) need you to understand that telling us, for the 450th time, to take a bath or go for a walk, is not helpful. 

We got the message and tried the thing - it either didn't work, or it didn't work enough all by itself.

And no, it doesn't mean that you can never suggest walks or baths again - it just means that presenting it as a magic cure, or some sort of ground-breaking idea, is... not helpful.

And practical advice? 

Stuff you can actually use when you feel like your head's on fire?

Is often thin on the ground.

'Full agoraphobic, losing focus, cover blown
A book on getting better hand-delivered by a drone'

- Bo Burnham, That Funny Feeling 

Worse than that, though, I've noticed that there's this undercurrent that somehow not being helped by these specific types of self-care somehow makes it your fault.

I'm sure a lot of people will think I'm exaggerating - and it's true that there's no one single thing I can point at and be like, 'that specific thing is stigmatising!' - it's more about the vibes

 - but I reckon a lot of people will agree with me, will have felt that unease which comes along with being told that this is how you take care of yourself. ('So if you're not doing it... are you really trying this self-care thing?')

'There it is again
That funny feeling'

- Bo Burnham, That Funny Feeling 

Whoever you are, however you do self-care - 

whether you have a dozen candles and a deep bathtub, or a set of questions to ask yourself when you get up in the morning to decide how to deal with the day, or something else entirely

- do what's right for YOU.

That's it. That's what the whole thing is about.

Don't let people shame you for that - you're doing the best you can, and you rock.

Nerd Church is taking a break next week and will be back on 5th June 2022

Do you get what I'm talking about?
Do you ever find that the way that some people restrict and define self-care can be... less than helpful?
Talk to me! 💖💬

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  1. First off... my Italian cousin doesn't like pasta. Weird, I know. But yes, I totally understand your points here. Mainly what annoys me is when people advertise meditation apps as THE form of self-care, and yet you have to subscribe to view the content on the apps. That just isn't accessible. I really appreciate folks who make yoga and meditation content free on youtube and without ads. It makes me feel better knowing I'm not inclined to purchase self-care, which seems counter-intuitive.

    1. As a Brit who doesn't like tea, I feel your cousin's pain! Lol.

      YES! The consumerisation of self-care is the exact opposite of what it's supposed to be about - and feeds into the 'you need to buy stuff to be happy' model


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