I discuss self-care a lot in my career and am frequently being asked for ‘non-extravagant’ and ‘inexpensive’ self-care ideas. This got me thinking – when did self-care become a commodity? Whilst treating yourself to a manicure or massage is undoubtably lovely, is it really the essence of self care? Or has the term become TOO synonymous with spa trips, nail appointments and chocolate treats? Sorry to ask, but has it become a little bit self indulgent?
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a bit of salon time as much as the next person, and I am not giving it up any time soon. But labelling this my ‘self-care’ and calling it a day means there is an expectation for these activities to sustain my mental and physical health. That’s a lot of pressure on a nice coloured nail varnish! They may relax me for a little while, or give me a feel good boost but alone they are simply papering over cracks, which in the long term may be doing more harm than good.
For me the essence of self-care is how you show up in your life every day. It should be more about:
Treating yourself with respect – understanding and maintaining your boundaries, saying no when necessary, showing yourself the kindness that you offer others
Taking responsibility for how you approach each day – checking in with yourself, your mindset, and how you are feeling – like you would your children – and tweaking your day accordingly – as you would for your children
Challenging yourself enough to spark adventures, but not enough to create unrealistic expectations and almost certain failure and exhaustion
Being present in your life so you are free to enjoy it in all its multi-coloured / crazy glory
Eating and living to nourish your body and soul – the couch is nice, crisps are nice….they are not self care unless they are part of a much more nourishing package!!
Paying as much attention to your tired cues as you do to your children’s
Showing up and doing your best regardless of the outcome
Committing to learning and developing a little bit everyday
Ditching the guilt for doing all of the above!
These are just my ideas and I acknowledge that some of them are actually quite uncomfortable (someone bring back the spa day please!!) especially if you are just starting to assert your boundaries or to check-in with yourself more. But like ripping off a plaster, it’s a necessary pain that is well worth it in the long term. I believe these acts of self care should be as habitual as brushing your teeth. I’m not there yet but I’m working on it, alongside booking in my next little spa afternoon with the girls!