Ever have one of those days where, after work, all you want to do is dive face first into a bowl of ice cream? Or binge on Netflix and Doritos until you feel better? Or mindlessly scroll social media–judging some people and feeling judged by others?
Those activities might make you feel better in the short term. They might help you relax, decompress, and fell less bad. But they don’t do much to improve your situation.
They’re what I call Empty Calorie Self-Care.
Empty Calorie Self-Care masks your problems. It doesn’t fix them. In the long term, such activities may even make things worse. I mean, ice cream is fine now and again, but relying on its magical properties every time you’re stressed, anxious, frustrated, or exhausted isn’t a healthy choice—physically or emotionally.
You need to make more nutritious choices. Divert some of that Netflix and ice cream time into taking baby steps toward some change you want in your life.
Move your body. Go for a walk, chase your dog around the house, do a pushup.
Exercise your mind. Read something that’ll help you be more effective at work or life. Draw a picture, write a song, record a podcast, build a birdhouse, knit a sock.
Connect with another person. Face to face in real life. Share a story, share a feeling, share yourself.
Filling up on empty self-care calories will always be easier, but in the long run, more nutritious self-care choices make you a healthier and happier person.