I have been having a few troubles with ‘self-care’ recently, it has become a buzz word I feel we are throwing around all too often. I am a massive advocate for self-care, every now and then when I feel my to-do list unravel out of control and stress is kicking in, I know I need to take some time for me. To relax, unwind and to realise not doing something there and then will not make the World end.
Recently I feel self-care has become a curated lifestyle often a chance for many of us millennials to ‘show-off’. It has become another hashtag that we can subtly brag how lovely our life looks. Yes we may feel like shit inside, sitting on the sofa with a blanket, the cats and a family size bar of chocolate but add a filter and all of a sudden its #selfcare #blessed #metime many of these seem to consist of enviable roll top baths with bubbles and Diptyque candle that we know no one wants to burn.
To me, self-care isn’t a new £40 candle, chocolate, a new blanket, silk pjs. Self-care isn’t stocking up on a juice cleanse diet or an expensive gym membership or a new type of yoga class, it’s not paying £15 a month for Netflix to binge on series, it is not abandoning work and responsibilities for nights out, it’s not scheduling time to chill either or adding it onto the never ending list of things to do.
To me self-care is, spending time with friends, turning my phone off for a couple of hours, long walk with the dogs, fresh air, creating a tidy environment, having some work free time, having a laugh, reading something I enjoy, feeling wholesome and good, going for a run or doing some exercise, making an effort with family and people that make me feel good, doing something to my garden, spending a bit of time nurturing relationships, texting a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while. Self-care to me is those things that make me step back from what I am doing to be grateful for the moment I am in. It is that time to reflect on this and just be happy without thinking ten steps ahead of where I currently am.
I don’t want to be hypocritical, I love a Netflix series, I love my brush cotton pjs, I love lighting a candle or two and snuggling under a blanket with a cup of tea. Sounds ideal right? and it is. But buying into this being the only way we can practice self-care and mindfulness gives marketers another platform to target products at, an activity that doesn’t need to cost money. Spending money to be more mindful of your self-care defeats the object.
Self-care is anything that can make you feel better in mind and body, it is taking that step back and making your mind catch up with itself, its taking care of your mental health as much as you would your physical health. You do what you need to do to zone out of what is building up, but self-care is running the risk of becoming meaningless, turned into another lifestyle fad being consumerized by marketers.
Last weekend after a busy week and a trip to Chester, as I walked through the door from work at 10 pm on Friday night and crawled into bed I could feel myself being taken over by a bug. I couldn’t breathe properly and my head felt heavy and useless. Come Saturday morning, I wasn’t going anywhere. I spent the whole day in bed, I got up, showered, went to the supermarket, went back to bed and slept and writing this now, Sunday night, I feel a bit more myself, all be it with a red nose only 8 hour cream can fix. My body didn’t need scheduled chill time for an hour or anything of the above it just needed a bloody good rest and a bit of TLC, a shower a good bit of skin care, three hundred gallons of water and Lucozade and for me to be a bit more conscious of what I am doing to myself.
So this week when you are stressed and you think you need a break have one then and there, don’t plan ahead to the million things you are going to arrange to make an ‘Instagramable’ self-care night just take a step back then and there. If you are at work, get up and walk, make a tea for everyone, go find someone to have a quick non work related chat to. If you are at home just leave what you are doing and sit down for a bit, put a podcast on, go for a walk just do something in that moment that will make you realise that stepping away from the stress will make you feel 100% better than you currently do.