Responsible self care includes productivity


Evelyn Lillemoe

Self care is more about hard work paying off than luxurious relaxation.

Lizzie Kristal, The Rubicon

When schoolwork is piling up and stress seems to be nonstop, will a bubble bath and a face mask really help with the stress? While a pamper session is sometimes a great way to relax, it’s not necessarily the best way to go about relieving stress and, in fact, might just extend it. Sometimes the best form of self-care is to sit down and get stuff done.

A big misconception about self-care is that it’s glamorous. Marketing companies advertise their products as the sole solution to life’s problems. The self-care industry is worth about $10 billion a year in the U.S. The truth is these items can only go so far to improve mental health. Effective self-care isn’t a treat-yourself moment; it’s about finding a routine that helps take care of oneself, whatever that may be. For many people, this comes in forms of physical activity, sleep, productivity, and more.

Specifically when it comes to schoolwork, getting it done is often the best way to destress. Lighting candles isn’t going to do much when you have two essays and five other assignments to get done. The only way to stop worrying about that work is to get it done. There’s nothing better than watching Netflix after grinding out a ton of work that was bringing you down.

There is no set list of activities that are going to be universally effective in reducing stress.

Self-care is a cycle; you can’t be productive if you aren’t taking care of yourself, but you also can’t take care of yourself if you aren’t being productive. You have to find the balance that works for you between light activities such as pampering, and more productive activities such as doing homework or cleaning. Without one or the other, it’s challenging to function at your best.

Another misconception surrounding self-care is that it looks the same for everyone, which is false. Everyone’s lives and needs are different, so there is no set list of activities that are going to be universally effective in reducing stress. In order to have self-care, you need self-awareness to figure out which activities work for you and what kind of balance you need. The combination of self-care and self-awareness is what you need in order to find the perfect routine for you.

The majority of stigmas surrounding self-care comes from advertisements and social media. Many influencers who have accounts that only post the perfection of their lives show self-care products like facials and bath bombs as life-changing. In reality, most of these posts are sponsored, or they are posting to gain followers because the relaxing lifestyle is attractive.

Next time you’re feeling like you’re suffocating in work, try to sit down and get it done. Save the bubble bath for after you’ve lifted the stress off your shoulders and can truly enjoy the relaxation. Try not to fall into social media traps that suggest what self-care techniques to use; instead, tune into what your own needs are and find a routine that works for you. That way, you’ll have a surefire way to stay mentally healthy throughout the school year. 

This story was originally published in the December 2019 issue of The Rubicon.