I’ve been stuck in the gap between what I’d like to be doing and what may actually be good for me for a long time. The best example of this I can think of, or perhaps the one that happens most frequently to me, is the following. Usually in the evening, often after a long day. But to be honest it could be any time. I get caught in this dilemma. Should I watch TV or should I exercise? It’s not always the exercise factor. It could be socialize, read, paint or crochet or any other activity which requires energy. But the balance is always between something mindless and easy and something that requires more energy. But I ultimately suspect is good for me.
For A Guide to Prioritizing Self-Care By Prioritizing You read here.
Finding the Balance
If you’re hoping for an answer to this question. I’ll have to disappoint you. Despite struggling with it for a while. I don’t have a clear cut solution. But what I have gained is clarity. For one, at the start I struggled with the idea of TV vs. something I didn’t want to do. I hadn’t yet understood the nuances around this dilemma. With time, I understood it wasn’t as simple as not wanting to exercise etc. But it went deeper. It was tied to my hesitancy to do something unproductive. Convinced that it meant I was wasting my time. But I’ve come to realise that watching TV does have a role to play in self-care. Likewise, exercise or whatever else I didn’t want to do had benefits for me too.
Recognizing the Benefits
Had the decision been enjoy myself vs. not enjoying myself. It would have been simple enough. But with more thought I realized there were benefits on both sides of the equation. And it wasn’t so easy. Firstly, I’ve had to get to grips with the idea of looking after myself. Whilst I understand it logically. I’ve often experienced guilt around prioritizing my own needs. Falling very much into the trap that self-care is selfish.
Next I had to acknowledge that watching TV can be self-care. Perhaps it’s not the most productive form. It doesn’t usually teach me anything new. I prefer to watch something that provides distance from my life and doesn’t make me think too hard. But it does get me out of my head and helpful me forget my worries for a time. And it does bring me joy. I often choose to watch light-hearted comedies which make me smile. At times I need the mindlessness that TV provides. And some light relief. Although I admit I could benefit from watching it with more moderation. So, on the one hand TV good. And yet, I still find it hard to allow myself to engage with it. Especially when there are other things on my to-do list.
When it comes to those things that I don’t usually enjoy. Or don’t enjoy as much as the ease of watching TV. I’ve also had to admit to myself that these things have benefits too. If they weren’t good for my health, I could so easily leave them on the way side. And although I often resent them, and the time I spend on them. I’ve had to acknowledge that they do have benefits for me.
As we know, exercise is good for both our mental and physical health. It really helps with mood. And it keeps my weight in check which is important to me. So I know that there are times when it is worth pushing myself to engage in a different way. Yes, TV brings me some pleasure and an escape. But other forms of self-care like exercise, creativity etc may be more work but also bring different benefits. Like a sense of achievement, feeding my identity and a chance to be creative.
For Why Self-Care is Everyone’s Responsibility read here.
If any of this post has resonated with you, then you will need to think about your own next steps. But these are mine. I need to get better at all forms of self-care. Both the ones I find easier to do like watching TV. And pushing myself to engage in the others. Recognizing the different benefits they all bring. And that the best approach is a holistic one which includes them all to more or less degrees. Often tailoring what I choose to do with the need I’m hoping to fill. Some days I will have more energy to engage in self-care that requires a bit more thought and attention. On other days, I needed to be kinder to myself and crawl into bed or the sofa with a bit of mindless screen time.
The balance is also key. I have discovered over time that when I force myself to engage in some types of self-care; particularly exercise. The balance of how it impacts my mental health can become skewed. Forcing myself to work out too often doesn’t give my body the time it needs to rest. Leaving me sore and uncomfortable.
Likewise, finding the time to exercise in my busy schedule can be it’s own source of stress. Negating the stress-busting benefits that I exercise for. Instead I’ve had to acknowledge that whilst certain exercise goals would be attainable in a perfect world. I need to make these work for me. So, slightly less frequent exercise, for example four times a week instead of five, may be better for me in the long-term. This balance will be more sustainable, benefit my mental health more and take the pressure off. Which, I hope, will mean I’ll start to resent it less and enjoy it more!
What are your thoughts on finding the balance between what you want to do and what is good for you? Did this post resonate with you? How do you find the balance? Let us know below!