Discipline as self-care

Suzy Jones

Words by Anna

Art by Suzy Jones


Controversially, discipline is my ultimate form of self-care. I am not talking about the drill sergeant “do one hundred pushups, run a marathon, survive on nothing but scraps of lettuce and bone broth” sort of discipline. Without a doubt, restrictive behaviours and a lack of balance culminate in nothing but severe burnout and rapidly declining mental health.

I am talking about prioritising the fleeting discomfort of delayed gratification over the hedonistic, short lived pleasure of instant gratification.

I am talking about setting a 15 minute timer and making a schedule to complete that pesky statistics assignment due in a few weeks because if the schedule isn’t made and the assignment isn’t started, a teary, Red Bull fuelled, 11.59 PM mental breakdown becomes inevitable.

I am talking about sometimes resisting the steamy and greasy beckoning calls of a GYG burrito while studying on campus, so the saved money can sit pretty in an exchange traded fund, sealing a more financially secure future.

I am talking about planning a drunken night out in the city with friends in advance, instead of succumbing to another unplanned mid-week blowout which isn’t enjoyable anyway because I am stressed about an exam I have in three days and haven’t started studying for. Marinating guilt-free in my doona with a cheeky GYG burrito and a large sprite sounds far more appealing than a pounding hangover, a million regrets, a missed 9am lecture and a detonated bank account. 

Sure, sometimes discipline can be exchanged for compassion. Sometimes, it is okay to sleep in for an extra hour and skip the gym after a horrific night haunted by sleep-paralysis demons. Sometimes, it is okay to binge watch reruns of Gilmore Girls while lazing on the couch in order to survive a truly shitty mental health day.

But being able to navigate the fine line between elaborate excuses and listening to my body is so important. Too many times I have told myself I deserve to procrastinate, to skip class, to doom scroll, to go on a shopping spree in the name of self-care and in the name of ‘living for the plot’ because I am young and I only have one life. But self-care shouldn’t leave me broke, overwhelmed and full of regret. Self-care shouldn’t make me feel like shit.


The author Anna

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