I was scrolling through Pinterest again–somehow this often sparks me to write mental health pieces. But I saw this quote and thought, “Are you supposed to do all of these things in one day? The same day?”
I’ve put an ungodly amount of work and therapy into learning how to cope with, recognize, and offset my anxiety and problematic thought processes. And to me, this seems like something that would be running through my mind on a day when I’m doing way too much, have overcommitted but still trying to do my best, and ultimately feel like a failure or that I’m not doing enough.
When I see this, I would think–well, I didn’t have time for a workout today, only a short little yoga stretch. And I definitely haven’t had enough water. The salad I had for lunch was good because it means I was trying to eat healthy, but it was takeout so it means I spent money and I shouldn’t have.
Not even on my best, most balanced days can I accomplish everything on this deranged self-care list. Nor do I want to. To me, this feels like checking off a lot of boxes that can, in theory, help you. But in reality, it’s striving toward this insane standard of perfection that not only messes with your mental state, but your body image, too.
On a side note, I think it’s the lemon water that pisses me off. I don’t know why. It just feels very “LA” and out of touch to me. Coffee–I want coffee–and maybe a glass of water if I’m lucky.
Now, I’m not saying that I live like a garbage ball or don’t think these things can be helpful. Instead, I argue that all unique ways of coping with stress are valid when trying to keep your cool during a hellish week. And this post, to me, is trying to idealize even how we deal with the hardest pressures.
Here’s what this post would look like if I’d written it myself:
Wake up when your body is ready. If you’re lucky, avoid the alarm.
Drink coffee by a window and try to be present in the moment. Don’t allow your thoughts to race to all the things you feel like you should be doing right now.
Eat what you’re craving, and trust yourself that you can provide for your body what it needs in balance, whether it be an itch for ice cream or bell peppers. Get outside and take a walk. Would a run or a longer yoga practice make you feel better? Then do it, sure.
Try not to take too many naps (Ben is rolling his eyes from the other room, I’m sure.) Read things that make you happy or make your mind wander.
Most of all, be gentle. You’re doing just fine the way you are. You’re wearing yourself out being this hard of a critic.
The reason I react so strongly to this is because reading it is something I can easily fall trapped to in a highly-anxious moment. And it’s taken so much work to dismantle that train of thought. So when I see something like this in my feed, I know there’s plenty of other women out there who go on the same spiral of critical thoughts while reading it.
There’s something about Pinterest, too, while mindless, that pokes at that old domestic expectation we have. Another post–“Ways to be a more put together person” details that in addition to responding quickly to emails and having a neatly organized planner, also stay mindful of the kinds of accessories you have, that your nails are painted, that your home is kept neat. Isn’t that something you’d see in a 1950’s magazine on how to be a housewife? It shouldn’t be in some cursive font on a minimalist color background to blend in to the rest of the “2020 aesthetic” posts.
Who are you doing this for? For you? It feels to me, on top of trying to be put together physically and mentally, there’s also this pressure to actually appear put together, too. What if being put together means wearing my glasses and messy hair because I just finished working through a tough writing problem on deadline? Or I worked my ass off to get accepted into a publication I really care about. Does it matter if the nails that type this are painted?
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