“I’m rejecting self-care at the moment and it actually feels so good”

Written by Morgan Fargo

From eschewing skincare routines to choosing socialising over deep sleep, Stylist’s senior beauty writer explores the balance between care and control. 

Like most people, I’ve made it to the end of the year feeling a multitude of emotions. Yes, there’s tiredness and fatigue from rethinking my daily routine multiple times over the past 12 months, but there’s also a wanton, sometimes flagrant, disregard for doing anything about it. Taking care of myself feels arduous and boring. And, in an especially petulant way, I just don’t want to do it. 

It hasn’t always felt this way: an earlier bedtime, outdoor walk and indulging in my skincare routine were elements that helped keep me stable during the pandemic, but now they feel square, rote and unfulfilling. In short, I just want to have fun and not pay for it. 

I don’t want my skin to suffer if I choose to sleep in my make-up, but it will. I don’t want my laundry pile to overflow when it goes untouched, but it does. I don’t want my nightly doom scroll to affect how tired I am in the morning but – well, you get it. Everything affects everything and it feels overwhelming. 

Small, cross feelings aside, I feel tired of trying to stay in equilibrium. Tired of every day maintaining such a hyper-vigilant watch over my nutritional, emotional and sleep-based routines. Burning the candle at both ends feels seductive again, in the way it only can when you haven’t done it for a while. 

Recently, though, I’ve been going out more than I stay in. From work functions to birthdays and dinner parties, my days have stretched longer than they have in a while. And when I come home at the same time I would usually go to bed, the last thing I wanted to do was start the rigmarole of readying myself for sleep. I was finally having fun again; why did it have to stop? 

This past month alone I’ve had Tuesday or Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night plans almost every week. A general seven-day run down included two work functions, dinner with friends, and two parties or celebrations of some sort. Compare this to the 90-minute walk I went on every evening at the beginning of the pandemic or the nutritionally-complete lengthy meals I would make, and it feels like a wholly different life. 

Now, I know there’s no joy in extremes. Too much of anything is the key to coming rapidly unstuck. But in my opinion, this has to apply to temperance and regulation too. Reaching the end of a week feeling like I’ve made the sensible choice at every turn doesn’t imbue me with happiness. It makes me feel dull and stale. 

I’m not advocating railing it Monday through Sunday but, similarly, early nights are only fun in moderation. With darker nights and greyer days closing in, a healthy mix of fun and frivolity is the key to not mentally hibernating until Easter. 

But, to the point of all of this: why can’t I be bothered to take care of myself at the moment? Probably because I feel like I’ve taken care of myself to the point of strangulation for over two years (Am I sleeping enough? Am I eating enough? What’s my skin doing?) – systematic surveillance to imbue daily life with some element of control. 

If I couldn’t control how often I could see my friends, hug my mum or travel to be with my family, I could at least control the hours of sleep I had each week or the products I layered onto my skin. Letting go of that dominance – even just for an evening or two – feels radically liberating. And if I wake up more tired than I’d like, well, so be it. 

Time passes whichever choice we choose and I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying filling mine with fun again. 

Main image: Morgan Fargo

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