A few years ago the term self-care appeared as a means of describing anything that a person does to take care of themselves, like getting a massage, meditating, going for a walk in nature, or taking a relaxing bath in essential oils.
All of the above are great ways to improve your physical and emotional health; however, they are often used not as a way to improve health, but to undo the damage caused by underlying stresses and simply restore one’s previous level of health.
Take meditation. It’s a practice that has been used for millennia as a means of trying to reach an enlightened state. But what do we often use it for now? As a means to calm ourselves down after an argument with a significant other or a way to gain a glimpse of equanimity before what we know will be a tough day at work.
In the above instances, meditation isn’t being used to take us to a higher place, it’s being used to get us back to baseline. And then the next day, when our job or our toxic relationships drag us back into sadness or anxiety, we use it again to bring us back up.
This is akin to using Tylenol to treat cancer. Cancer causes pain, so we take Tylenol to relieve the pain. This treats only the symptoms and ensures that we’re going to have to take Tylenol, again and again, each time the pain arises.
How would we stop that cycle? By curing the cancer.
Similarly, you can’t massage away a bad job and you can’t journal away a toxic relationship. In both instances, you’re merely treating the symptoms.
What’s the cure? Quitting.
Quit the job that’s taken your sanity day after day. Quit the relationships that have led you to the negative self-talk that require hours of journaling and meditation to sort out.
Because all of the above self-care tools are amazing in their own rights but are so much more helpful in improving your physical and mental health if you’re starting from a more stable baseline — which requires taking a good look (often through journaling!) at what is disturbing your peace.
So next time something has you anxious or depressed, grab that journal and write down what led to that feeling. Then start analyzing whether the cause can be quit. You may need a job-ectomy, or to have some toxic friends surgically removed from your friend circle.
And after you do, be sure to light some candles, throw some essential oils in a bathtub, and meditate your way to enlightenment — free of whatever was holding you back!
This article originally appeared on the Quitting By Design blog. If you’re feeling stuck somewhere in your life and you’d like to learn more about strategic quitting, go to my website for a free chapter from my book, Quitting by Design. You can also check out my podcast, Quit Happens, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Lynn Marie Morski, MD, Esq.
Lynn Marie Morski is a physician, attorney, and lifelong quitter. She has carved out a successful path by not only knowing when to persevere and when to quit but more importantly, how to learn from the situations where quitting was the best option. Her firm belief is that quitting doesn't deserve the stigma it has been given, for quitting is a key step in finding out what truly works for each person. She would love to help you create your best life by quitting the things that aren't serving you. To that end, she started the Quit Happens podcast, where each week she interviews someone who has found success through strategic quitting in order to help pass along their advice to you! Also, her first book, Quitting by Design, is set for release in September 2018. In addition, Dr. Morski helps people to and through their quits via coaching and public speaking.