Is it really self-care if you don’t like it?

I recently posted a picture on Instagram of a packet of camomile tea, saying that I was trying to take it up because I thought it would be good for me, despite the fact that I currently don’t like tea of any kind. Someone questioned whether it is really self-care if you don’t like it. I have a lot of thoughts about this topic. Not just the tea, but about non-enjoyable self-care. I like coffee, cake and a massage as much as the next person, but I’m also a big advocate for the stuff that’s often called ‘boring self-care’. Here’s why.



Why do something you don’t enjoy?

I’m not a great fan of exercise, to be honest. I feel self-conscious at the gym and spending my limited spare time sweating (and thus making more laundry) when I could be lying on the sofa does not come easily to me. Does that mean I shouldn’t exercise? I don’t think anyone would say that.

I also mentioned recently that I’ve started taking medication to deal with the stress of adoption-related admin: the medical appointments, the social worker emails and meetings, the school phone calls and meetings and exclusions, the fight with the SEN department to get Joanna the right school place, the constant concerns about who is funding what and whether funding will suddenly stop… there is now so much of this stuff, it’s practically a full-time job keeping up with it all. Anyway. Should someone in my position refuse medication because they don’t like taking pills? I’d say not if their GP is recommending them.

(See how the citalopram packet perfectly matches my blog colours? It’s as if it was meant to be.)

Self-care is also stuff like going to the dentist, staying hydrated, eating well, talking to someone about your mental health, getting an early night even when there’s something good on TV – all the stuff that keeps your physical and mental health in as good a shape as possible.

Self-care includes going to the dentist, staying hydrated, eating well, talking about your mental health, getting an early night – all the stuff that keeps your physical and mental health as good as possible. Yes, this can be boring. Click To Tweet

Why self-care is about discipline, not just cake

is-it-really-self-care-if-you-don't-like-itYes, this stuff can be boring. Yes, many people prefer to think of self-care as cake and spa treatments and candlelit bubble baths. I’m not saying for a minute that I don’t like cake, or that I never try to eat the stress away. I have been known to eat Nutella straight from the jar when stressed on multiple occasions. But the practical stuff – the survival level stuff, if you like, is what makes me feel more mentally healthy, more ‘together’. When I am on top on that, I function better. I’m calmer. I probably parent a bit better. I cope a bit better with all the admin and nonsense. And I don’t think that’s just me.

The word ‘discipline’ has acquired all sorts of negative connotations, especially in the adoption world, and I understand if you don’t like it. But in the original sense of following a healthy plan and reaping the benefits of that, it’s necessary and useful and constructive. Agree? Need Convincing? This article on ‘The Goopification of Self-Care’ makes the case well.

Boring self-care

Have you seen the #boringselfcare hashtag? It’s used widely on both Instagram and Twitter by people celebrating the boring but important self-care tasks they’ve completed. Eating properly. Doing the laundry. Asking for help. Going for a walk.


Hannah Daisy (@makedaisychains) is great at this and regularly posts illustrations of boring self-care. (More about Hannah Daisy in this article from The Mighty.) She’s definitely one to follow for self-care encouragement and realism. (For more suggestions, read my post Instagram as self-care.)

Still drinking tea

So yes, I’m going to persevere with the camomile tea, even though at the moment I still think it tastes like grass. And I encourage you to persist with acts of self-care that aren’t necessarily fun and/or delicious if they are what you need to do.

What might that mean for you? Let me know in the comments.



  1. Jayne
    20 February 2018 / 12:52 pm

    Self care for me is continuing to attend dr appointment to get to bottom of why I three month long chest infections, currently suffering again, of course I am worn down all the time by a damaged six year old who has been home five years, plus a 11 year old birth child hitting puberty (fuelled by anger from hormones and the situation we deal with with trauma from adoptive son). Self care is a magazine in bed with. Acuppa. Self care is booking and ordering my online grocery shop. Self care is saying no to toxic friendships and giving myself a break off church when I feel we don’t fit in like non adoptive families. Self care is pushing for our educational Psychologist to see us and saying no to all the crap and pressure of Christmas. I am learning and trying.

    • 20 February 2018 / 1:23 pm

      YES. Self-care is all of these things. It can be really difficult, especially when parenting traumatised children and battling for support. Thanks for adding your experiences.

  2. Sarah
    20 February 2018 / 10:10 pm

    Valerian tea is calming and helped me, and tastes less yucky than chamomile (which I think somehow tastes greasy, bleurgh). Boring self-care here is: slimming world because I replaced sleep and sanity with sugar and reached the point I was putting myself at risk due to weight; abandoning all pretence of homework/filling in the dreaded reading record…and like the previous commenter, quite a few Sundays “off church” when I’m too exhausted to do all the compensating.

    • 20 February 2018 / 10:14 pm

      I hadn’t heard of valerian tea – thanks for the recommendation! Love your boring self-care list, too!

  3. Amber
    22 February 2018 / 2:56 pm

    I’ve been self-medicating with wine and food for months, which is obviously a bad idea for many reasons. Unsurprisingly I’ve gained weight and am currently the heaviest I’ve ever been. I then started to feel bad about that, but not motivated enough to do anything about it. Finally, I realised that I needed to make some changes, so I’ve started Weight Watchers and cut back on the wine. Early days but it actually feels good!

    A walk every day makes a massive difference and is an important part of my self-care routine.

    I’m learning to say ‘no’ to things if doing them would mean sacrificing time I would have spent resting or recharging. For example, I try to avoid two weekends away in a row.

    Boring everyday things: a shower and hair wash every day, cleaning my teeth, taking my medication and supplements, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy and nutritious food (see above!). Being in my usual routine of going to work every day also helps (health permitting).

    Looking out for other people as much as I can also helps me to feel good about myself.

  4. 23 February 2018 / 4:14 pm

    This is a timely post! My husband gave me a couple of days to take care of myself recently and I got a haircut, went to the orthodontist, and ordered new glasses for myself. I despised every minute of those specific activities. The stylist blow dried my hair in a way that caused me to feel several years older. None of the glasses seemed to look right and the orthodontist kindly told me I needed to have a few other procedures before he could help me.

    In the end, I felt pretty horrible, but, I’d feel even worse if my hair was still growing out like witch hair, my glasses prescription expired before I could have it filled, and I put off my dental procedures until after my teeth started falling out.

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