As far as wellness trends go, talk of self-care has become as ubiquitous as juice cleansing, F45 and Buddha bowls. Although the digital age has allowed for the proliferation of misinformation about what is truly good for us, enabling countless fleeting fads and perpetuating often unattainable products and experiences, it is important to remember that it also provides the space for truly superb and lasting ideas to spread.
Self-care is a perfect example of an essential and universal practice, suitable for each and every one of us, which has been slightly co-opted by digital influencers the world over but should be considered non-negotiable and compulsory. So what exactly is self-care? And why is it so important?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that self-care is a broad and very subjective term, and there is no right or wrong about what constitutes one’s self-care practices. Very often it is about concrete behaviours that we can all see, such as taking a bath, eating well, catching up on sleep or walking barefoot on the grass. All of which, by the way, are very valid and useful self-care ideas. However, the term also resides in the abstract, in practices that are not necessarily visible or obvious. The idea of ‘single-tasking’, for instance, is a wonderful way of taking care of oneself. That is, focussing on one thing at a time, like sitting and listening to an album from beginning to end, or going to the bathroom without your phone… learning to tame one’s inner critic is another practice that should be in any self-care repertoire, along with recognising stress signals, practising gratitude and cultivating fewer but more meaningful close relationships.
In an overloaded and rapidly moving world, learning to say ‘no’ can be a profound act of self-care, as can letting go; of others’ actions, your mistakes, and things that reside beyond your control. Self-care is most definitely not all about Poké bowls, facemasks and cups of tea (although it certainly should be SOME of the time). It’s about living in accordance with your values. Recognising when your ambition tips over into perfectionism. Noticing what fulfils you and adds meaning to your life and owning your choices and actions.
Whatever your self-care routine looks like, just try to remember that it won’t always be easy, but, crucially, it is never a luxury and always a necessity.