What the F actually IS self care?
Do you ever feel like you can’t move without being bashed in the face by a trend? Like, a few years ago, everything was emblazoned with owls. Then pineapples. Then Cactuses. Now Flamingos are popping up all over the place. Who makes these decisions? (p.s definitely bought into all these trends. Our house is littered with copper and rose gold pineapple accoutrements.)
I notice it with phrases and lifestyle trends as well. We had ‘Clean Eating’ and lol look how well that turned out. We had ‘Hygge’ which saw us all raiding Ikea like it was doomsday, manically buying fleecy blankets and candles and making vast pots of casserole like it was going out of fashion. And now, we have Self-Care.
I feel like I cannot open any article, magazine, or even Twitter at the moment without some kind of self care shopping list being THRUSTED upon me. “21 Self-Care Products you Deserve!”, “18 Candles for Self-Care!”, “12 Things Anxious People NEED!” (hun, unless that list involves a night of avoiding social situations I doubt it’ll make much difference, and tbh I don’t think you can buy those at Urban Outfitters).
At first I thought it was quite nice, a more humble version of the catchphrase ‘Treat Yo’self’ (which, as catchphrases go, has been an aaaaabsolute disaster for my bank balance). And, as the dialogue from these articles and listicles seems to read, unless you buy all this stuff, you are not treating yourself with care. No care, no kindness and in doing so, you’re being irresponsible and not looking after yourself.
Now listen, I love me a Lush bath bomb as much as the next basic boo, but a bath bomb alone does not make for good mental health (omg I’m such a philosopher).
Trusty ol’ Wikipedia (p.s thanks Wikipedia for helping me get my undergrad degree love you boo) defines Self Care as:
“any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.”
So basically, a necessary thing you do for yourself. Much as I’d love to argue that Lush products are a basic human right, on days when I need to care for myself the most, an indulgent bubble bath is the last thing on my mind.
For me, on those days when my brain is fully tangled, my panic goes into overdrive or my depression strikes, making me lethargic and apathetic, self-care turns into something much more low key. As I get older and I become an old hand at tussling with my own brain, I recognise that there is a wee voice that helps me to take care of myself, even amongst the stronger, louder voice that tells me I suck and everyone hates me.
That little wee voice helps me to look after myself by helping me get out of bed. She helps me to shower and wash my face and put on clean, comfortable clothes that make me feel safe. She reminds me to put on my Harry Potter audiobooks on my battered old iPod because she knows that they calm me down. She says, “Eat something that you know is good for you, your body deserves to have fruit and vegetables inside it.” She knows that sometimes I need to just be at home, being quiet and feeling safe inside that silent space. She helps me to say ‘No’ to things I don’t want to do. She tells me to get an early night, and I listen and am in bed by 9pm and feel worlds better for it the next day. She hears when I’m beating myself up and gently asks me to stop, and say kinder things to myself. She sees when the day will just be too much and gives me the courage to ask my boss if I can work at home rather than face a commute and interacting with the world all day. She is my Queen of Self-Care.
And she lives inside my head. She helps me to exist alongside my brain when it misbehaves and my body when I don’t think it’s good enough. What a hero! She didn’t always exist, she’s a fairly new tenant. sprung up as a result of the work I’ve been doing to improve my self esteem and manage my anxiety/depression.
So for me, this is what self-care looks like. Sure, I still like a hot bubble bath after a long day at work (and huns, I just invested in one of those bath caddy things which has a drinks holder and a tea light holder and a place for my kindle and lemme tell ya it has revolutionised my bathtime), and I sometimes feel like the strongest version of myself when I’ve got a full face on and freshly painted nails. But I still think Self-Care at its truest form, is making sure you, your mind, and your body have what they need at their very base level in order for you to go forth and slaaaay the universe. Everything else is just the bath-bomb shaped cherry on the cake.
It’s good to be back guys.