What is self-care?

what is self-care

What is self-care? Everyone is talking about self-care. The hashtag #selfcare has 81.2 million posts on Instagram. All the brands, influencers, YouTube videos, and even blogs are discussing self-care.

Self-care has been the hottest topic of the past 5 years.  Suddenly, everyone recognizes that we need to take care of ourselves as humans.

That doesn’t make any sense to me, by the way.

Of course, I need to take care of myself to survive, eat, sleep, shower, and just exist as a whole. And now, all of a sudden, it is becoming trendy to take care of yourself? Or is it the image associated with self-care that is trendy and popular?

Let’s explore together the different meanings associated with self-care, how self-care became a business, and what it truly means to take care of ourselves.

Self-care according to beauty brands

According to Sephora, Nivea, L’Oréal, and many others, self-care is making sure you always look perfect. Self-care is making sure I don’t have pimples or blackheads. Self-care means having smooth skin and shiny hair. Self-care means that I have to spend a lot of money, take endless appointments at salons, and always buy minis to test, so I can buy the maxis later. Self-care means that I have to spend an extra 30 minutes on the toilet when I wake up and an extra 30 minutes before going to bed.

Self-care means that I need to learn by heart the products, the components of the product, install apps to check the cleanliness of the products, and remember in what order to put them. Self-care means I am never satisfied with my skin, and I always hate my hair.

Self-care means a lot of guilt

I feel guilty because I forgot to remove my makeup, I feel guilty because I only put on my night cream and not my serum, I feel guilty because I didn’t do my oil masks on Sunday, I feel guilty because it’s been 3 weeks since I didn’t do my pedicure, I feel guilty because I don’t have enough money to buy all the products I want, and I feel guilty because I know for a fact that I will never look like those edited pictures of mannequins that they keep feeding me with.

So why, on earth, is what is supposed to be taking care of myself turning into tiredness, guilt, and the end of my savings account?

Self-care according to fitness people

For the meal plans companies, gyms, and online coaches, self-care means something completely different. To make it short, self-care means that I always need to pay attention to what I eat; running is useless, but lifting weights will help me take care of myself better. Also, according to them, it’s very easy to take care of myself because my meal plans will be delivered to me, I will save the planet by not wasting food, and I can work out in the comfort of my home, so really what am I waiting for, right?

Oh wait, here it goes again… I need money to buy the meal plans, to subscribe to the gym, or to your online ‘’from the comfort of my home’’ program.

Self-care according to yoga instructors and well-being specialists

Well, for this one, not a lot of money needs to be involved, but many people did make a fortune out of caring for others.

Basically, according to them, I need to be always conscious of my breathing and always stretching, and if I do both combined with some book reading, then it means that I am taking care of myself.

Self-care for women

Women suffer from a lot of pressure from society to take care of themselves. Most of the ads about food, beauty, well-being, and yoga feature women models, and the messaging is clearly targeting women. Women will suffer from a lot of stigma if their hair is not done, if their makeup is not on fleek, if they didn’t do a manicure, or if they didn’t sign up for the latest meal plan. Women are expected to always take care of themselves, and men are the complete opposite.

How many reels or TikToks did you see with a man laughing at his wife for the number of products she uses while he is just using soap? How many ads did you see with a man applying a 5-step skincare routine? How many men did you hear talking about how they have an appointment for their Sunday yoga and meditation class? The answer you are looking for is: not many.

What self-care is not

According to all those people, if you follow a specific guideline on how to take care of your skin, hair, the food you eat, the type of sport you practice, your meditation, and yoga, then it means that you have a good self-care routine. It means like there is one same formula for everyone and that if you don’t follow it, you will have wrinkles and gain weight. And if you have the latter, you will be considered as someone who doesn’t take care of themselves.

There is also a lot of guilt associated with it because of how demanding those routines are and how they disregard the ability, passions, desires, and habits of some people. The guilt comes from the idea that if you are not doing what they are saying, and if you are not strictly following the specific guidelines, then it means that you are not taking care of yourself. And that is simply wrong.

What is self-care?

Self-care is taking care of oneself. That’s it.

You are your own person, with your own personality, goals, dreams, passions, level of energy, patience, or ability. WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

Taking care of you means listening to your needs. Taking care of you means that you know what you want and what you need, and you are providing it for you. Or at least you are making sure you are trying to.

Self-care means showing up and standing up for yourself.

How to practice self-care?

  • Listen to your needs: if you feel tired, rest. If you feel sleepy, sleep. If you feel like meditating, meditate. If you feel like going on a bike trip, take a bike trip. If you feel like eating chocolate, eat chocolate. If you feel like going on a soup diet for 1 week, go on a soup diet for 1 week. Listening to your needs means that you are listening to what your mind and body are telling you. And if it’s something completely crazy, like jumping every day out of a plane, then do it. Taking care of yourself is doing things that you like and that you need, not what other people tell you to do.
  • Don’t give up on yourself: as much as I agree with the whole concept of ‘’healthy mind in a healthy body,’’ taking care of ourselves doesn’t just stop at a physical level. Taking care of ourselves means not giving up on your mind. Taking care of yourself means that you will have a plan for yourself, that you are working towards achieving this plan, and never giving up on yourself for it. You are not just what you look like or what your body looks like. You are so much more, and it is your responsibility to discover that and make it happen, and taking care of yourself means that you will not give up and show up for you, for your plans, and objectives.
  • Self-care means that you know who you are taking care of: the word self-care means that you are taking care of you. But to take care of you, you need to know who you are. And exploring yourself means that you will gather more information about you to appropriately take care of yourself. And sometimes this can be as simple as discovering your passions. And this is going to take a lot of time, trials, errors, and failure. But once you get there, once you know who you are, you will be able to satisfy your needs and show up for you. Not for what people, brands, and self-care specialists tell you.

Take care of yourself

I wish there were more steps that I can add to help you understand self-care and to help you take care of yourself, but I will be just lying to you, and that is not the purpose.

What you have to understand is that you are your own person and you are living your own life.

So, stop trying to meet those unreachable and costly standards so you can feel like you did self-care today. Instead, spend time understanding yourself and showing up for yourself. And this will do you more good than any meal plan, yoga session, or retinol cream you can buy on the market. And if you still want to do those three, then it’s fine and be proud of yourself for showing up for your mind and body.

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