words Alexa Wang
Self-care is important. You’d be hard-pressed to find a reasonable person who disagrees with this. However, self-care advice is regularly offered as a catch-all solution to resolve all maladies, as if doing daily positive affirmations each morning is enough to make you feel wholesome and happy.
While efforts like this can help, they might not be significant. After all, people have real problems, and real conflict, and sometimes, real mistakes they’re trying to resolve. Life can be hard, and time can be short. Your schedule might be filled wall-to-wall with all of the responsibilities you have to take care of, such as raising a family and trying to work a career at the same time.
When you’re just trying to make it day to day, having a sanctimonious writer trying to tell you to rest up and just think positively can feel a little tiring. So, in this post, let’s try to subvert that. Let’s consider what self-care guides often leave out. Ironically, this might help you enact a self-care schedule that actually means something to you, and that accounts for your own personal and emotional needs.
In this post, we’ll try to assist with that. Please consider:
Table of Contents
What Is The True Meaning Of Your Self-Care?
Sometimes, before you purchase the creams, or the lotions, or the candles and incense sticks, it’s good to ask what your self-care efforts are for. Of course, you may answer this easily – self-care is taking care of yourself.
However, it’s good to ask if that’s the full story, or if you’ve been convinced to adopt someone elses’ idea of what self-care should look like for you. For example, it might not be that you’re interested in an hour of meditation a day right now, but you are interested in purchasing products that help you keep on top of your hair shrinkage in warmer weather.
It’s okay to alter the general priority of your self-care as time goes on, and months and seasons pass. Sometimes, work may be getting to you, and so altering your self-care for the reduction of stress can make a huge difference, perhap with long-soaking baths, spa sessions when you can fit them in, or taking up yoga.
Self-care isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a supplement to a lifestyle, and sometimes you may require different supplements. Allow yourself some breathing room to decide, and don’t be afraid to switch things up.
Managing Self-Care During Tough Times
Many people think that self-care is a wondrous effort of comfort, calm, relaxation, and joy, as if you’re always walking on clouds. Of course, self-care can certain help with escapism and comfort (like when meditating to some beautiful ambient music and enjoying scented incense in a warm and comfortable room), but the truth is that life is hard, and self-care sometimes needs to be recuperative rather than expressive.
So, what might that look like? Well, self-care could be a supplement to help you through a grieving process, or to help you lift your spirits with some natural herbal remedies when you’re sick. Little additions like this could make a big difference to how healthy you feel. No matter if it’s using activated charcoal products to help your skin, or aloe vera creams to help against sunburn, self-care is best when it addresses direct needs, even (and especially) in the hard times.
Curating Compassion & Resisting Artificial Standards
Self-care has become an industry in many ways. Often, advice is written to sell products or to encourage you to follow specific influencers and their membership programs. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, sometimes those offerings really do work.
However, they can make you feel as though an artificial standard is always needed, and that nothing outside of that will work. Self-care should always offer self-compassion. It might be that you’re having a hard time at work, and before you address the problem you just need to take a mental health day at home, relaxing, going for a light walk, enjoying a movie you love, reading, and planning out how you’ll talk to your boss.
Self-care means different things on different days, and sometimes, you may not have time to care for it at all. This is okay. Remember – self-care is not a test. It’s okay if it’s a simple, humble effort.
Self-Care As A Parent
From time to time, life responsibilities can pile up, and any time spent pampering yourself can feel too indulgent. This is especially true if you have a major responsibility like children to look after. Yet that makes self-care no less important to care for from time to time.
It’s important to celebrate the small things that help you feel connected and comforted. A morning walk in the park with your infant, a herbal tea when you return home, lotion that protects your skin and helps you feel great, treating yourself to small things like a new paperback novel can all make a difference. Moreover, ask for help from others, like your partner, parents or friends when you need them. Learn not to pass up on caring for yourself just because others may not want to. It will make a big difference.
Recovering From An Unhealthy Lifestyle
Self-care can be recuperative as mentioned above, but it might not just be a tough time you’re going through, rather it could be you’re trying to make positive changes in your life. For example, learning to exercise a little bit every day after being injured can help restore your strength (in line with your physician’s advice), and can help you feel better over time. That may be more self-care than any soak in the bathtub.
If you hope to lose weight, then taking baby steps, not rushing it, and opting for sustainable self-care matters most. Celebrating the small wins, eating more fresh vegetables, and trying new hobbies, like heading to a spin class, can be self-care. Self-care can involve heading to the high street to buy some new clothes and celebrate your new fit after your efforts. As you can see, self-care can come in many different ways, and express itself through many goals.
Going Against The Grain
Self-care is often characterized as warm rest under a blanket, indulging in ice cream, or many other comforting, relaxing activities. For others, it may be the opposite. You may find that self-care is best felt when writing in a journal and really chronicling your day or ideas about certain topics.
For others, self-care comes from working hard in their garden on a hot summer’s day, drinking cool lemonade and listening to some jazz classics. It’s good to detach from the “advice-approved” idea of what self-care and do what helps you feel invigorated, interested, and energized. That may be more restorative than a week in bed, or watching Netflix on the sofa.
Keeping It Simple
Self-care doesn’t have to be a great investment of funds and time. You can keep things simple, and cheap. For example, making sure you get to bed at the same time each night, wearing a sleep mask and some ear plugs will net you some deep sleep, helping you focus on your sleep hygiene, improving it, and feeling rejuvenated each morning.
Simple self-care can also mean spending less time with those in your social circle who you feel unhappy around. Sometimes, directing where we express our social energies with more care can help us avoid agreeing to hobbies and habits that we’re not altogether interested in.
Have you noticed that when you apply self-care, it’s usually in pursuit of a single experience or activity? That might involve gardening, resting, heading to a spa, or taking a dip in your home jacuzzi. The secret is that you’re focused on one thing. So, simplifying areas of your life, even if that means taking your morning walk with no podcasts playing in your headphones, can help you remain clear-minded and comfortable in that feeling.
What About The Expense?
You shouldn’t have to keep up with the most expensive or innovative products in order to feel rejuvenated. Sure, massage oils, beautiful scented candles, weighted blankets, or regular spa days may be lovely, and if you can justify that expense then that’s wonderful.
From time to time, though, it’s good to just focus on a basic approach to self-care that you can keep up with on a daily basis. Each morning, you might make yourself some matcha tea, step out onto your balcony and breathe in the fresh air. Perhaps you’ll listen to some classical music, and then go to meditate in order to start your day. You might just enjoy watching ASMR videos before you head to sleep each night.
Often, there’s a cheap or even free alternative to whatever self-care habit you enjoy, even if that means asking your partner for a shoulder rub (and returning the favor when you can). It’s the little efforts involved in your self-care love language that have the most impact, especially when they’re nestled into your schedule properly.
For this reason, many people working day to day tend to apply self-care with very little expense at all.