What is self-care?
The term self-care has been synonymous with recovery – from addiction and illness, to breakdowns – and is about the steps and experiences to get you on the path to being as well as you can be. It’s about pouring acts of love into chasms of hurt, or numbness, or anxiety. Chronic physical and mental health sufferers can view self-care and acts of self-love very differently to those who don’t.
And, what has come out recently in internet culture identifying as self-care are things like soaking into a pool of bath bomb water, eating a meticulously prepared and arranged, instagrammed dessert – people seemingly not in recovery are describing the caring things they do for themselves, as self-care. Is this not self-care? Is this somehow less self-caring, are there levels? Or are we able to use the term self-care for all acts of… self-care?
What is it to me?
For me, sometimes self-care is a head to toe body moisturize three times in one day, and some weeks it’s getting through to Sunday evening without collapsing into a frail ball of ‘I really don’t see the point in being here anymore’. It’s a bath-bomb and it’s tidying my room and it’s drinking an entire carton of milkshake
and it’s writing letters to the people I love and just keeping them to read to myself
and it’s going to a cafe just to quietly sit in the corner and drink a hot chocolate
[and it’s switching off
no, not the kind of ‘switching off’ in that ‘put down your phone and get off the internet because it’s making you miserable’ way that many older people say condescendingly to millennials. If your switching off means switching onto a specific internet page then that’s no less of switching off, do it, just go for it.]
and it’s camping in the woods with the person I love,
laying in silence, cozed in a double duvet in a tent, looking up at the soft rainfall through the trees above as it gently sprinkles my face
having a 15 minute timer go off after what seemed like a few quick moments of peace
time being suspended.
And yes, still having wifi to just check how to campfire cook things and saying through laughter “don’t move! don’t move! I want a picture of you just as I see you right now!” as I capture the moments I feel happy with my amateur photography and no pressure for it to be anything but what it is.
And self-care is doing things for yourself sometimes when you don’t even know you’re in recovery from something, until you look back at the twists and the pieces of yourself you dropped and hastily tried to pick up.
These small self-care things in seemingly happy people’s daily lives might seem offensive trivial things on my bad days, frustrated that glittery bubbles or a classical playlist won’t help this time, worried that an unreachable and ‘deeper’ kind of care is necessary.
How do you do this self-care thing?
With an outpouring of love, a reminder that you deserve any self-care that you can or can’t give yourself.
What is inhibiting your peace? What brings you peace? How long do you have in a day? Minutes? Hours? Your capacity for acts of self-love are endless, but feeling like you deserve or need them is another aspect entirely. Reminder: you do deserve it. And I don’t just mean filling a void with shopping trip after vacation after spa retreat and feeling no better because you’re just doing what you think could help.
It’s tricky. It can take time. It takes honesty of self. And honesty with others, if and when you’re ready.
Exploring the roots of these voids and why self-love-wonder-warmth is what you need.
I’ll let you in on a confession. As a chronic worrier amongst other things – always thinking into the future and making plans for this, and back-up plans in-case those plans go awry – I am one to get anxious, stressed, and often ill as my mind is constantly darting around the ethereal world. People, and experiences to force me into the present are everything in my well-being. And, I have a horror of emotional rejection that goes far back to events I remember and perhaps ones I don’t. My self-care varies from little to large things, but what brings me most peace is spending close emotional time with people who are close to me. A reminder that amongst rejection there’s acceptance. Amongst the future of uncertain everything, there’s the present of peace. This present. This peace.
What is self-care to you? What do you do to bring peace, joy, excitement, stillness, positivity, to yourself. And, what would you like to do?