What do we mean by self-care?
Nowadays, it seems there is a whole lifestyle being sold on self-care with scented candles, luxury bubble bath and turmeric based drinks all designed to improve our health and wellbeing. Posts on Instagram portray carefully curated images of must-have products all selling the self-care dream. But if we strip all of this away, what does the phrase self-care actually mean? Is it just candles and bath oils, or something much more meaningful?
Having come of age in the 90s, the term ‘self-care’ is fairly new to me and something I always thought meant simply looking after yourself. And to a degree, that’s pretty much what it is. Self-care is any activity we do in order to look after our mental, emotional and physical health. It is key to keeping ourselves well; maintaining our immune systems and mental wellbeing.
yes, it may be as simple as running a relaxing bubble bath or lighting a scented candle; for others, it may be the key to getting themselves out of bed in the morning.
Why you need to look after yourself
Physical and mental health obviously differs from person to person. It also changes throughout our lives. This is where the concept of self-care can’t really be prescriptive: for some people, yes, it may be as simple as running a relaxing bubble bath or lighting a scented candle; for others, it may be the key to getting themselves out of bed in the morning.
On this basis, I do think it’s important not to dismiss self-care as just a luxury or a lifestyle aspiration. It can be critical to someone’s recovery from illness or being able to maintain to hold down a job. It’s also not just about wellness but ensuring lots of parts of our lives are in balance including our finances. As someone who has had my fair share of debts in the past, I know the stress it causes when you’re not sure if your paycheck will last you the month.
For me, I definitely know self-care is something I need to concentrate on more. My face takes on a greyish pallor when I haven’t been eating and sleeping properly. I also start to feel exhausted and run down. I need to get better at recognising that self-care is preventative action rather than something I do after running myself into the ground.
How to put self-care in place
One of the easiest ways to look at how best to support yourself is to do a self-care audit. This helps you identify what areas of life you need to focus on and to think about the actions you’ll put in place. It’s worth doing this every six months or so because life changes and your self-care needs will change with it.