There’s a good piece over a Tiny Buddha today titled Escape Isn’t Self-Care. Too many people embrace avoidance behavior, but don’t do much else to nurture their physical and mental health. It’s self-care without self-awareness, because you’re not acknowledging how you feel, or why you feel that way. You can never address the underlying issue if all you do is run away.
Knowing When to Walk Away
Let’s all say it again together: Minimalism is getting rid of the things you don’t need in order to create space for the things you want. Just yesterday I wrote about my inability to continue the zine because of the emotional toll it took. That wasn’t avoidance of the issues; it was knowing my tolerances, and understanding that I can’t soak in human misery all day long and still be functional. Some people think I’m avoiding a lot of problems by living in Finland, but I’m here for the opportunities. It’s not about what we walked away from, but what we walked toward. There are things we can do here that we wouldn’t be able to do in the United States, starting with Katie going to graduate school.
I have referred to closing my social media accounts as an act of self-care. It’s escape and avoidance, sure. Just this morning, though, Katie was telling me about her most recent Facebook exploits. Someone posted something factually incorrect (without doing a deep dive, another diatribe equating being gay to being a pedophile). She had to jump in and school them. The person then either took the post down, or edited permissions so Katie can’t see it. Which is no indication that the original poster learned anything from Katie’s comment. Maybe the person isn’t spreading garbage any more, but no one is seeing Katie’s correction, either.
The point I’m making, though, is that I don’t have time to do all of the things I need and want to accomplish on any given day. I certainly don’t have time to be the Ignorance Police. Especially since people will continue to be locked into their belief systems, regardless of the facts. It’s pointless. Then I get upset, and have a harder time doing the things I need to do. So I don’t do social media on a personal level, making more space for the things I need and want.
Finding a Better Way
Minimalism, then, is a form of self-care. Self-care is a practice of minimalism. Where is the line, though, between mindful editing and unhealthy avoidance? I think it’s a matter of picking the proper time and place to deal with things. It’s more of an organizational and time management problem than anything else. I don’t look at the news in the morning because I know it will ruin a good portion of my day. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed, but I need to be awake, in a good mood, and feel like I’ve accomplished something before I can absorb the rudeness, cruelty, and willful ignorance the day has to offer.
It means taking the deep dive, when I have the time and the emotional bandwidth, to address my fears and worries. Knowing that the politicians and the media thrive on fear-mongering, I need to know the whole story. Often, it’s not as bad as it sounds — surprise, surprise, we’re being manipulated. The part where someone is trying to do something about it gets buried, or left out of the story entirely. I’m not avoiding the issue, but I’m facing it in a way that doesn’t adversely impact my entire life.
Self-Care Without Self-Awareness
Taking care of yourself requires you to know what needs taking care of. If you have dry skin, you put on lotion. When you eat healthy all week, you take a cheat day. Knowing that you’re allergic to peanuts, you avoid them. Conversely, knowing that I could eat nothing but ice cream all day, every day, I don’t keep it in the house. The TV is off and my second computer is no longer on my desktop because I’d let streaming “background noise” distract me from work. That’s all self-care. It’s addressing my needs in ways that are positive, productive, and ultimately make me feel better about myself.