What actually is "Self-care"?
Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years within the wellness industry. But what does it really mean, and how can it apply to you and your way of living?
As mental wellbeing is becoming increasingly important and the wellness industry is rapidly growing, it’s so crucial that we understand the terms that we are talking about, or at least getting curious about what they mean to you.
For many, self-care conjures up images of candles, meditation, reading, or going out for a peaceful walk. It’s often associated with maintaining positive mental health too, with cheerful social media posts claiming to stop your anxiety with some self-care.
But these associations are not particularly helpful for the sole reason that we are all individuals.
Literally, self-care means “to look after oneself”. So here is the crucial thing: I can’t tell you what self-care is for you, because I am not you: self-care is different for everyone and it is anything that you intentionally do to take care of yourself. That means physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. It’s not something we force ourselves to do; it’s something we choose to do, something that refuels and reignites us.
For some people, self-care might be with reserving some time to have a clear out at home. For others, it might be going for a run. There will be people who like to light some candles and have a nice long bath. Other people might love to clear their minds by writing out a to-do list and systematically deciding which task to tackle next.
If you’re not sure what self-care might look like for you then maybe try to reframe it in your mind: what things help you to totally switch off, give your mind a rest, feel balanced and less stressed? Then actively choose to make time for that.
And this brings us to the challenge of social media posts claiming self-care can brighten your day. As with the majority of things in life, consistency is key. Lighting one candle a year, or journalling ten years ago won’t create a self-care routine that helps you to find more peace in your life, or less anxiety etc… just like going for one run or eating one doughnut won’t alter your fitness.
Doing activities regularly that allow us to restore physically and mentally can have a huge impact on the way we function and feel. So making small changes and setting small goals to begin with is a great way to get started. Once you begin to build the habit, then you can start to gradually increase the time where you are focusing on yourself.
Your 'you' time
Ultimately self-care is your ‘you’ time. It’s your time to bring yourself back into balance, switch off from the pressures of work, daily life, global pandemics (!) etc. It’s something you should never feel guilty for, and something that is key for an overall sense of happiness.
So what’s your self-care routine or activities? What do you do to switch off, or just simply what do you love to do to help your mind reset?