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This week's video is a rant from Chelsea about the concept of "self-care," how the internet has ruined it, and why we need to think differently about how we reward ourselves. This video is brought to you by Rakuten. Sign up and get $10: Then enter to win a $100 Gift card -

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Hey guys, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet, and this video is brought to you by Rakuten, the largest cashback service online partnering with 3,000 of your favorite retailers. Stay tuned through the end of this video to find out how to win 100 dollars. 

And this week's video is all about self care. And you don't know it, but I've had a really bad day, so I am ready to rant. Now let me say upfront that I know that this video is going to have some similar responses to when I talk about my issues with minimalism. There's gonna be a bunch of no-true-scotsman in my comment section, which means that what I'm describing isn't the real version of whatever it is I'm talking about. 

In the case of minimalism, the minimalism that I'm talking about doesn't apply to their version of minimalism. And in this case, the kind of self care phenomenon that I'll be discussing, won't necessarily resemble your version of self care. So let's get this all out of the way right now and say that if what I'm describing doesn't apply to you, then it doesn't apply to you. No need to specify that in the comments. Am I gonna get more of those comments now? Congradulations, I played myself.

So now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the kind of self care that I want to talk about in this video. And that is what I'd like to call "Instagram self care", or maybe you see it more on Pinterest, or on Tumblr, or on twitter. Basically, this is the very superficial internet-generated version of self care in which self care is mostly viewed through the prism of what feels good.

You'll often hear about it in terms of face masks and bubble baths or eating food that tastes delicious but leaves your organs screaming for help. This is the kind of self care that often boarders on "treat yourself", essentially making yourself feel good by indulging. You also might see this kind of self care talked about through the prism of interpersonal relationships. I think we've all seen those posts on social media about how like, you wanna just bail on plans

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or not answer people's phone calls, or not be reliable to them, that's called self-care, baby. It's you first. Now, listen, the individual calls to action for this kind of self-care that you may have seen can be different. Maybe for you it wasn't a bubble bath or not answering a phone call. Maybe for you it was more like setting really harsh boundaries with people, and calling out sick from work, and eating an entire pizza. The point is that this self-care has a lot more emphasis on the 'self' part, and a lot less on the true 'care' part. Especially when you consider what care means on the scale of a human life.

Now, I have had many a brush with this kind of self-care myself. There have been many decisions that I've made, or things that I've indulged in, or bought, or allowed myself to do, because I put it under that very superficial definition of self-care. And from time to time, why not drink that wine while in a bath with your laptop precariously placed on the toilet, playing the episode of Sex and the City you've seen 1,700 times, which is exactly what I've done. It's totally fine. But, it's not really caring for myself in any long-term way.

And, at least for me, thinking about those kind of activities through the prism of 'I'm really, truly doing something good for myself' has allowed me to slip into routines that are actively destructive after a while. For example, for a very long time, I absolutely hated the idea of exercising. Basically, from the time I got a desk job onwards, the idea of going to a class to work out, which was the only way I could envision it in my mind, seemed ridiculous and like a waste of time and not something I wanted to be doing. In the moment, it always undeniably felt better to go home, or go shopping, or meet a friend than it did to go to a class and work out. And part of that was because I was picking the wrong classes that were in no way adapted to my life or my skill sets. But it was also because I felt like that exercise was kind of punishing me. And that I was taking the self-care route

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by doing what my body really yearned to do which was nothing.

And I allowed myself to continue in that way for a long time. Because those kind of bad decisions we make aren't ever just one isolated choice ie. "I'm not doing to workout ever.

That's a thing I don't do". It's just a series of accumulations, of opting out, of deciding that you want to do what feels like the path of least resistance, or just leaning into what's easiest. But those little opt-outs, when done regularly become a lifestyle and there I found myself at the age of 28 basically having lived a totally sedentary life for the majority of my 20s.

Because of that, when I started to actually get into exercising, by far the hardest part of it was those initial couple weeks of month where every time I went felt like a struggle. It went against my natural instincts, it felt like I kind of was punishing myself and it certainly didn't feel like self care. And now only through having made it a part of my regular routine, those classes actually do feel like self care because A) my body is now expecting them.

It gives me a lot more energy than it takes away from me, and it feels like a part of my routine that helps keep me grounded and sane. But I never would have created that truly healthy and self caring routine if I wasn't able to break myself out of the cycle of what felt immediately good. I could see the same patterns in my work for example.

Often just defaulting to what felt best in the moment meant that I was accumulating bad choices that became habits and lifestyles. In the career field that could mean easily missing out on much better opportunities because I wasn't willing to take a few steps out of my comfort zone in order to seek them out. In fact most of the things in my life today that are most valuable and most meaningful to me only happened because I risked a little bit of discomfort for a while in order to get them.

But I think it even goes beyond that. Because often what this superficial self care rhetoric is talking about is really leaning into your own instincts

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and we don't even stop to think that in many cases, what we perceive our instincts are often rather corrupted by the world around us.

For example, when we think about what it means to eat what we want, well what do we want to eat? Is it totally isolated and just in terms of what our body most craves nutritionally?

Almost certainly not! It's impacted by what other people around you are eating, what you've been advertised, what your body has been trained to crave because you've been eating it since childhood, what responds to the emotions that you're feeling rather than your actual biological needs. If I were to ask myself what do I really want to eat right now, of course the answer is sheet cake.

But is that what my body really wants to eat right now? Of course it's not! My body's like vegetables please Chelsea vegetables.

Like no bitch, iced coffee. Listening to what feels good isn't just only half the story, in many cases it's not even really an accurate portrayal of what our own body wants. Learning to tune out the noise of all the outside factors that may be influencing why your idea of self-care food is a bag of crunchy Cheetos and not a bag of carrots is an important part of the recipe.

But let's say that your intuition is correct and you haven't been corrupted by a million external factors that are changing what might feel good to you in the moment. We come back to that question of what feels good, and I have to say that for many definitions of self-care that I've seen on the internet, the idea of what feels good is extremely incomplete. And beyond that, what feels "good" isn't even really necessarily a good goal in and of itself.

What is often most necessary or meaningful to us is not often what will correlate with just a burst of serotonin. Whether it's something like working out when it's not what you really want to be doing, or eating a really well-balanced meal, or working on your financial health when you would rather be watching television.

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The things that are truly caring for ourselves and setting ourselves up for a better future are not going to be the things that lead to those happy little bursts of serotonin, at least not in the moment.

And why I said at the beginning that when we think of self-care on the scale of the human life, it totally changes perspectives, is because what is caring for you today is often not what feels good today. It's often doing the hard-work now that sets you up for a much better daily life.

Throughout the entire scale of your life. And not just for the moment you want to feel that joy. For example when I was terrible with money, swiping that card made me feel great.

It made me feel like I was treating myself or rewarding myself, or caring for myself. But when I look back to what I was doing to my overall financial health, in no way was that care. When I look at those really unfun moments when I sat down at the collections agency or financial experts or even my own husband to figure out how to meaningful steps in the right direction, those are the moments that were truly self-care.

And they kind of felt not great in the moment. At TFD, so much of my message has always been rethinking what it means to do the right thing for yourself, and often decoupling that from what feels good in the moment. And yes, of course, sometimes it feels good to just let loose and do something really fun or really enjoyable.

But we should start to rethink what we consider a reward. And yes, obviously it's never going to feel as fun to do your taxes as it is to watch a movie marathon while eating a pizza, but what if we started to think as that a reward in and of itself. That you have just done future you an enormous favor by getting something kinda shitty out of the way and setting yourself up for a better tomorrow.

When we continually think of all of these sort of temporary, ephemeral, superficial joys as the way of rewarding ourselves or of even caring for ourselves, we further and further think of those building blocks of a better life that may not be joyful in the moment,

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as a kind of punishment.

That eating a plate of vegetables or doing your taxes or going to a workout class, is going against that notion of self-care. If we forced ourselves to redefine self-care as including the things that don't feel very good in the moment, we could maybe start to have a better picture of what it really means to do something good for ourselves.

Because let's be honest, even if everything were joyful, joy is a pretty limited human emotion, and it's important to focus on all of the others being a balanced part of your life. And I know that many of you will say that self-care rhetoric is often an antidote to people who have been taught not to care for themselves. Who have lived through traumas or experienced abuse or experienced the narrative that they're not deserving of these joys.

And I totally understand that reclaiming that joy can be an important part of that process. But for all of us it's important that we expand the notion of what that self-care really means. That we don't only include the things that might feel good to us.

We can choose to both embrace a different definition of these words in our own lives, and put forth a different definition of them into the world. So you may see those superficial self-care posts, and you might even relate to one or two of them. But it's up to you to change what that narrative might be in your own life.

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As always guys, thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the subscribe button, and to come back every Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye!