I hear this one a lot. And honestly, it's a really good question. When is doing fun/restful/nourishing things self-care, and when is it just procrastination or over-indulgence? Where's that line?
The honest answer is, I can't tell you. It's 100% personal and only you know. But here's my key tip for distinguishing the two for yourself: How does it feel in the moment? And how will you feel about it tomorrow?
The hardest part (IMO) is that most of us aren't actually used to listening to our own inner guidance system. We don't actually know how we're feeling most of the time. So here are my steps for determining this for yourself:
You probably need to become aware of your actual, physical body and how it actually, physically feels because we are not good at this. Are you truly hungry? Are you truly tired? What do tired or hungry feel like for you? Take some time to just get a sense of it. It might take a few weeks, or even months, to really get in touch with yourself like that.
Then, if you decide you do need some self-care, stay present while you're doing it. If you're drinking wine, really taste the wine and enjoy it. If you're resting, feel your body rest. And stay with it. So many times we zone out, or worse, guilt ourselves rather than letting the self-care sink in. Like, if you're gonna do it, f**kin' do it, and enjoy it!
Recognize when it no longer feels satisfying. Eventually, you'll notice that the wine or chocolate or shopping is more of a numbing than a satisfying. When that happens...
Stop and go back to your regularly-scheduled life.
That's it. No one else can tell you what you need. Only you can. Eventually, the relief of watching TV is going to turn into a weird, quiet guilt/nagging feeling that you should be writing your paper or doing your laundry (or whatever), and you have to listen to that weird, quiet guilt and honor that new need as much as you honored the need to rest and watch TV.
That's all I've got. If it's not clear, HMU. I always love talking to you.