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Self-Care Is Not a Mountain You Climb

How you think about self-care can change your life and relationships.

Key points

  • Two in three people, in America, do not practice self-care and only 39% of men say they consistently make time for it, while 32% of women do.
  • Self-neglect will continue to devour your fleeting days, memories, and experiences until you wave the white flag of surrender.
  • A Harris Poll reveals that 46% of people in the US reported struggling to find ways to maintain their mental health.

The Karakoram, also known as K2, the Savage Mountain, is generally considered the most difficult to climb in the world. At 28,251 feet high, planted on the border of China and Pakistan, the mere sight of this mountain is enough to end most people's fantasy of reaching its summit.

The brave mountaineers who attempt the feat, are not likely focused on the near-impossible odds they're facing when embarking on the journey upward.

If they did, the first step would never be taken.

Similarly, if you view your self-care and mental-health maintenance, as an impossible mountain you must climb, you’ll sit at basecamp indefinitely and miss out on an epic journey.

Your internal narrative and personal perspective about self-care will dictate the quality and quantity of how much of it you consume.

Caring for yourself consistently is not a mountain you climb or a box to check. Making the time to invest in your emotional well-being is about creating nurturing moments that sustain you now and into the future.

According to research conducted by Birchbox, a beauty and wellness company, two in three people, in America, do not practice self-care and only 39 percent of men say they consistently make time for it, while 32 percent of women do.

That leaves more than 60 percent of people standing at the foot of the mountain, that has been created in their minds, neglecting their self-care and falling into deeper states of stress, depression, and anxiety.

A Harris Poll survey released in May 2021 reveals that 46 percent of people in the United States reported struggling to find ways to maintain their physical, mental, and spiritual health during the pandemic. Moreover, 30 percent of Americans reported a lack of energy, 29 percent reported difficulty sleeping and 47 percent reported feelings of social isolation.

These statistics reveal a sad irony. The very self-care that most people are avoiding is the solution to the problems of perpetual fatigue, swirling toxic thoughts, and the low life momentum, they are facing.

This brand of self-neglect will continue to devour your fleeting days, memories, and experiences until you wave the white flag of surrender and journey into consistent renewal.

A dirty little secret is boldly strolling through cities and towns in broad daylight, destroying families, careers, and lives. The hushed lie too many of us have agreed to live out is that we can pretend to be at our best, living in the right house, wearing the right clothes, and creating the right social media posts, on the outside; while being drained, frustrated, and unwell on the inside.

The cost of living that lie is shouldering the burden of truth that gets heavier by the minute; self-care is not optional, it is an obligation that you can fulfill joyfully if you make a new agreement with yourself.

An easy way to step into a new mindset around self-care and mental-health maintenance is by acknowledging, I’m willing to create space in my life to feel and function better.

  • Self-care saves marriages.
  • Self-care renews friendships.
  • Self-care moves us out of isolation.
  • Self-care supports career elevation.

I worked with a group of women last year, who all described themselves as too busy and stressed to add one more thing to their plates. The words self-care sounded exactly like run to the grocery store for some milk, muster up the energy to have sex even though I’m tired, and complete a report for my boss.

I issued each of them a set of three challenges. One challenge involved doing nothing, except eating lunch while sitting on a park bench, at least twice a week—any park bench—taking deep breaths, simply alternating glances between the sky and the lush greenery of the park.

Within a few weeks, a woman from the group shared, “It’s been years since I have sat quietly, breathed, observed my surroundings, and enjoyed a meal, just for the sake of taking in the moment. I’m coming off autopilot because I have to.”

In the following weeks, she added daily gratitude journaling and a 20-minute walk to her blossoming self-care ritual. Quite naturally she reported feeling less stressed and more emotionally balanced throughout the day. An unexpected bonus she experienced was more renewed positive energy toward her spouse. It's impossible to love someone else fully when you are not taking care of yourself.

Unlike taking a risk and climbing the most dangerous mountain in the world, self-care invites us to take the safest risk of all, a step toward a happier, more fulfilling, life.

Reaching the summit of self-care is doable and well within your reach.