Okay, everyone, it’s time to address the elephant fad in the room. The phrase “self-care” has been ricocheting their way around the world for the past few years, dragging behind them the wallets of millions of people who just want to feel better for a few minutes
Here’s the thing, millions of people are investing in the self-care mechanisms marketed to them because they believe that’s the only way that self-care works! Don’t get me wrong, buying face masks and getting spa treatments while sipping sparkly prosecco is definitely a fantastic way to spend a Sunday, and might even be the right way to go about treating yourself if your budget can take the hit.
But today, we’re going to talk about this from the perspective of actual self-care; the kind that corporations haven’t gotten to yet, and the kind that you can do in the comforts of your own home without dropping a single dime.
What is self-care, anyway?
Many places would have you believe that self-care is the act of buying products that make you happy – the Balenciaga fluffy sandals, the fiftieth unnecessary crop top, another strange goop with the word “rejuvenating” in its name. These are all ways that you can treat yourself, small gifts that you can bring to your life for the sole purpose of giving your mood a little bump, but they are not the sole incarnation of self-care.
Self-care is the practice of creating a balanced, comfortable internal environment for oneself, in the interest of being able to handle the stressful twists and turns that life is constantly throwing our way. As they say, “a solid foundation builds a solid home”, and that applies to the building of one’s self as well.
Implementing a solid routine means creating consistent practices that bring you back to centre, to baseline, instead of sending you spinning off into stress and mountains of bath-bomb-fuelled-debt. And, surprisingly to many, self-care routines are highly individualistic. That is to say, your routine is not going to look like Sandra’s from the office, or your neighbour Dave’s. Accept that now, and you’ll be just fine.
Creating your own self-care routine
The key to creating a self-care routine that works best for you is to think about things that make you happy, as well as things that balance you out. Caring for oneself extends beyond making yourself feel good – it’s also about preparing yourself for coming stresses, and being realistic within your own mind about your available time and mental energy. Granted, this is a rather vague concept, but there are some tangible things that you can implement that make it far more concrete.
Step 1: Notice Yourself
First, start by going through your days as they occur. Pay attention to the things you enjoy having in your routine, the things that make you feel prepared for the day ahead and anything that may come your way. Then, try to notice what makes you sad, anxious, angry, or anything else you don’t want to be feeling. When does that feeling go away? What thought, action, or practice makes you balance out? Write them down somewhere – these will come really handy when the time comes.
Here’s the crucial thing to remember: it’s completely okay and necessary to feel negative emotions in situations that prompt them, but they also constitute a drain on your energy. In order to restore that energy and to build your foundation, you need to do things that are… well, rejuvenating. (No, that still doesn’t mean moisturiser is going to solve all of your problems.)
Step 2: Create a Plan
- Daily routine. The first part of the plan involves establishing a daily routine and then following it. Think about the habits you already have in your life that bring you contentment and stability, and try to add one or two more (don’t go overboard). For example, maybe waking up an hour earlier to give yourself more time in the day feels very productive and grounding, or maybe you really value exercise. It’s all about you here.
- Responsive routine. This is the plan you have in the bank when your day takes a turn. Maybe you got yelled at during work, maybe someone cut you off in traffic, or maybe you were just having an iffy mental day. Whatever it is, this plan is in place to help bring you back to centre. Those things that you noted down that help you feel better are what come into play. Some ideas could be meditating, a walk outside with your dog, a particular TV show that always puts a smile on your face.
It’s imperative to remember that your self-care routines don’t constitute “huge life changes” like buying a new pet or moving to a different city. While you can keep those options in the bank for the long-term, most of the time it’s the little changes we make in life that have the biggest impact on our mental state.
And listen, if having that bath bomb collection in your bathroom makes you happy, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just don’t get money twisted up in caring for yourself – you can practice self-care no matter what you have at your disposal. Be a friend to yourself, show yourself love, and the rest is going to be just fine. Trust us.
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