Health at Every Size: Compassionate Self-Care

Shoes in the air

I wonder what your response was to another article with the word “self-care” in the title. Did you roll your eyes at this millennial buzzword? Were you bitter that you’ve seen the word so many times, yet, feel as if you still don’t know how to do it yourself? Are you convinced that self-care is a luxury you are not lucky enough to have access to?

Self-Care in Current Times

The concept of self-care, while not new, seems to have taken on a new life since the 2016 US Presidential elections. The week after results were announced, “Americans Googled the term almost twice as often as they ever had in years past [1].”

Since then, Americans, and world citizens, have endured numerous other anxiety-provoking and challenging scenarios of political unrest, economic upheaval, and, currently, a global pandemic. Self-care at this time may seem like a band-aid on a bullet hole. However, it is more helpful to think of it as the solution for opening up a soda bottle that has been shaken up.

As stress (pressure) mounts inside of the bottle (your mind and body), the best solution is to slowly open the cap to relieve it so that it does not continue to build and explode. Self-care is slowly opening that cap and releasing the pressure bit-by-bit to avoid explosions of panic/anxiety attacks, depressive episodes, relationship upsets, burn-out, etc.

Health at Every Size & Self-Care

Woman practicing self-careDespite everything new going on in 2020, and now 2021, the old sore spots and pains of our nation’s ideologies still exist. Discrimination, prejudice, and the exclusion and judgment of minorities continues to be an issue. One such minority are those living within larger bodies.

These individuals are judged for their bodies from the point-of-view that being or having fat is a choice, that it signifies their health and worth, and that it is unacceptable. The Health at Every Size (HAES) movement, like self-care, has been happening much longer than it’s recent resurgence into the mainstream and is beginning to take on a new life.

More medical and mental health practitioners than ever before are taking a HAES approach, and individuals and organizations alike are beginning to shift their beliefs around body weight, size, and appearance, and the health or value of another person.

Even so, progress is slow, and those victimized by society’s unfounded beliefs on health and size live in the grey area of that progress every day. If you are one of these people, you are not alone, you are worthy, and you are deserving of the self-care needed to help you cherish yourself and your body and protect your mental health.

Getting Started

If you have struggled with finding effective self-care in the past, it can be helpful to examine first what exactly it is you are needing. Self-care activities run the gamut from spending time alone with a book or a bath to riding a rollercoaster to scream at the top of your lungs.

The traditional trends of taking a bath, lighting a candle, sipping tea, etc., are all helpful at times, but sometimes, what we don’t need is quiet. Solitude and self-care don’t always have to have these components.

Ask yourself what you need by exploring why you are seeking self-care at that moment. Is your body tense, your breathing shallow, your head aching, your thoughts racing, your speech pressured? First, consider what is coming up for you that you are attempting to cope with.

This can often direct you on where to go next. If you are feeling heightened anxious energy that you feel you need to release, look into past moments you have felt that way and what helped. Was it going for a walk or run, laughing with friends, blasting music?

Self-care has no limits as it is anything that helps you improve your mental and emotional wellness effectively. The key to self-care being effective is to do it intentionally. Sitting and coloring may help a little bit, but it ultimately won’t make a big difference unless you are intentionally and mindfully engaging in that activity.

Recognize that you are worthy of taking the time, dedication, and focus that it takes to engage in intentional self-care that makes a difference. The world is scary right now, and maybe it always has been for you, but you are worthy and valued and deserve to take care of yourself as such.


Resources:

[1] Harris, A. (2017). A history of self-care. Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2017/04/the_history_of_self_care.html.


About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published January 25, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on January 25, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.