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What is Self-Care?

December 07, 2019

The term "self-care" seems to be all the rage these days. Youtube is flooded with videos on morning and night routines, relaxation rituals, and meal prepping. Books about how to manage stress and anxiety are showing up in stores everywhere, and every day, a new meditation app seems to pop up. People seem obsessed with the idea of well, taking care of themselves.

So what exactly is "self-care", and why has this term become so popular recently? After all, doesn’t it go without saying that we should always take good care of ourselves? Googling the term gives me this result:

"Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health".

The keyword here seems to be "deliberately". Sometimes, we get so caught up with life’s demands such as work, family, and friends, that we forget to do the basic things that help ensure a healthy mind and body. This problem is often experienced by today’s millennials, who are juggling demanding jobs, big milestones like getting married or having their first kid, all while trying to get their adult lives together. Fueled by the rise in social media and the number of influencers out there, the idea that we should deliberately take the time to do things that improve our well-being has spread quickly.

But what "things" are we talking about exactly? This is where we may become led astray by advertisements and social media. Companies often take advantage of the recent self-care craze to advertise the latest supplements, superfoods, or diet fads, hoping people will jump on the bandwagon for the good of their own health. On social media, content creators often portray impractical self-care routines like waking up at 5 am to make a 10-ingredient green smoothie and attend a yoga class at some fancy gym or spending a fortune on skincare products. While some of these things may truly benefit your health, the way they are presented often masks the underlying principles of self-care.

First off, self-care isn’t just a one-time thing. Deciding to eat an acai bowl for lunch one day or to download a meditation app is a good start but won’t make much difference in the long run. In order for self-care to have a noticeably positive impact, it must be incorporated as a regular part of your routine. Self-care starts with the mindset that your health is a top priority. Once you believe that, then it will be easier to make time for yourself on a regular basis. You will be able to prioritize what’s most important to your health and drop the things that are less important without feeling guilty or selfish because you understand that in the long run, your health is what matters most.

Self-care doesn’t have to be some elaborate, time-consuming thing that takes up a huge chunk of time. In fact, often it is the little changes you make to the activities that you are already doing that have the most impact. For example, if you are trying to exercise more but don’t have time to hit the gym, you can try going for short walks throughout the day or taking short stretch breaks. Also, self-care is often more about the choices you make than the actual activities themselves. For instance, deliberately taking the stairs instead of the elevator in order to get more exercise can also be considered a form of self-care. As mentioned previously, self-care is a mindset, and once you have that mindset, your actions and decisions will reflect it.

Finally, there is also not a single method of self-care that works for everybody. It is perfectly fine to get inspiration from the endless resources that are available today, but in the end, remember that it is all about what your own body needs in order to be healthy. Feel free to experiment to eventually come up with your own set of activities, at your own pace and time, that work for you.

In the next article, I will go over what I believe to be five of the most important aspects of self-care which I always refer back to when planning my self-care activities.