The commercialization of self care activities has turned many of us away from the practice, and rightly so. Buying something fancy and bubble baths don’t truly address real life, day-to-day emotional health.
For self care that helps you heal, get real. Your physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual health will thank you.
So what does real self care look like?
1. Get pent up stress, anxiety, and struggles off your chest by opening up about it
2. Spin the Self Care Wheel to see a practical, tactical idea you can do right now, by yourself, with no money, or preparation required.
3. Read on to learn more on how to spot false claims and instead focus on what matters
Inspiration for the wheel provided by the book Feelings: Converting Negatives to Positives (2001) by Dr. Gloria Wilcox.
What is real self care?
Most people on the street would tell you that picking up a pint of ice cream is self-care. Or that buying a new luxury item is self-care. In this way, self-care is unfairly equated with indulgence. Despite what marketers want us to believe, these behaviors do not actually constitute self-care.
When brands co-opt self-care, they often capitalize on the compelling narrative that we can erase life’s negatives with happy-fying goods.
Hard to eat well? HelloFresh will send you a box of ingredients and a recipe. But they won’t help you address the avoidance and lack of time management that have made healthy eating a challenge.
Want to feel better about your looks? Sephora tells you that “you deserve that beauty in your basket,” without regard to your bank account’s say in the matter.
When self care gets commodified, it sends the message that emotional challenges can be solved by consumption. And by pushing that narrative, we direct folks’ attention away from the actual realms of self-care: self-concept, relationships, physical wellbeing, and our sense of purpose.
To change our collective cultural view, we need to start looking at self-care as a maintenance activity that humanity has always and will always need.
Find the right ways to care for yourself
To figure out what self care activities will serve you best, give yourself a block of unstructured free time and see what you naturally gravitate towards. Social distancing, self isolation, and quarantine due to coronavirus is a great opportunity to do this! Your innate preferences are signals and cues.
Prefer mindless snacking? Ideal self care for you may include creative projects or exercise for a dopamine boost.
Just want to talk to people? What you might crave is more scheduled time for quality connections, or regular calls with friends to decompress.
Think back to your childhood self care activities.
Another way to tell what kind of self care activities you need, is to think back to childhood. Think of what gave you joy during the happiest periods of your life.
As we grow up, our responsibilities and social pressures crowd us and lead us astray from the activities that bring us intrinsic joy. Re-visit what you engaged in as a child without realizing it. Dance like a maniac, collect leaves outside, finger paint, etc.
Self-care isn’t always about doing something; most importantly, it’s an attitude of consciousness and respect toward yourself.