Self-care is having a moment. It’s everywhere: on Instagram, online, and in stores. Whether on your screen or around the corner, brands and businesses have seemed to explode in this cultivation of promoting new ways, and products, to take care of yourself. This spotlight on treating yourself to your favorite skin-care products, foods, candles—or just a night-in—is well-deserved, not to mention a long time coming. For too long both mental health and well-being have been overlooked, undervalued, or plainly ignored in pop culture. As much as celebrities, bloggers, and businesses supporting this movement towards self-care is both refreshing and much-needed, is self-care really as easy as completing that purchase you have waiting in your cart? Will that thirty-dollar yoga class really be that transformative by the time you reach savasana? In short: can self-care really be reduced to a single action, experience, or purchase?
Of course, activities and rituals can be great tools, but they are just that: useful tools in the bigger picture of self-care. As self-care has entered mainstream dialogue and become increasingly curated and commodified, so has a universal idea of its pursuit as over-simplified and detached from the complex realities of mental and physical health.
“We might just have to stop bullying ourselves in our heads, but actually, make that voice treat our inner thoughts how we would treat our friends. This process will beg for a constant self-evaluation, a confrontation with the reality of our minds and bodies as we reflect on the past and look towards the future.”
Sometimes, caring for yourself is, and has to be, harder than slipping on your newest silk pajamas and (literally) calling it a night. Whether taking care of yourself is mental, physical, or spiritual, it will require a process. Whether you’re seeking to heal old wounds, literal or figurative, or just want to get in touch with yourself, no Instagram influencer or trendy smoothie recipe will hold all the answers. This process will look different; everyone will employ unique means in order to reach their own ends, but it will be an ever-changing journey, one that doesn’t necessarily include a finish line. Maybe there won’t be big breakthrough moments like you wanted. Maybe there will. Maybe these moments will come when you least expect it, or when you needed them most. The hardest part lies in simply making the time to structure this routine and see it through. Before that can happen, what may prove to be the most challenging is to make the time to consider what that will mean in itself, to actually sit down and figure out where you’re trying to go, and answering the questions that go along with that. Maybe that has to mean saying no to the things we always “squeeze in.” Maybe it means taking a day to be on your own. Maybe that means not spending time doing things only out of a sense of obligation, but instead focusing on areas where you feel genuine desire. Maybe it will have to mean completely rewiring the way you interact with the world around you, but more importantly, how you interact with yourself.
We might just have to stop bullying ourselves in our heads, but actually, make that voice treat our inner thoughts how we would treat our friends. This process will beg for a constant self-evaluation, a confrontation with the reality of our minds and bodies as we reflect on the past and look towards the future. This journey doesn’t have to be done alone. You can consult with a therapist, talk with a friend, or write in a journal. How you want to begin this journey of self-discovery is completely up to you. Just know that you’re not alone in this and the best people in your lives only want the best for you.
So, this wasn’t an article pointing to five essential oils to buy to achieve peace in your life, office, home, etc. There are plenty of stories out there like that, and they may provide useful, meaningful, or just plain fun resources to aid in the bigger picture of actually taking care of yourself—and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, this journey will have to mean something bigger than curating a perfect Instagram feed or doing a skin-care routine. It may come to mean something completely outside the norms that have been created to promote this new aesthetically pleasing, consumable form of self-care to begin with. It will have to start with asking yourself tough questions, establishing how you want to find the answers, and being prepared for a non-linear path towards caring for your mind and body for as long as you have them. This might sound scary to do, but the better you feel within yourself, the more you’ll be able to let go of the things that you may be depending on to help with your self-care routine and instead, do those things to add a little lift and positivity to your already positive outlook on life.
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