I think we can all admit to being duped by the great self-care con of 2018. In the social sphere self-care is closely linked to consumerism. It seems like “Treat yo self” is more than a witty one-liner from Parks and Recreation but a potentially dangerous phrase that reminds us, incorrectly, that the only way we can take care of ourselves is by purchasing skincare products, the latest gadgets and clothing for an eye-watering amount of money. Big corporations have capitalised off the self-care movement and they have told us repeatedly that we will never be truly happy until we buy X. This goes against why the self-care movement originated. So, what is self-care? Self-care can be defined as the practice of doing things that are beneficial for one’s mind, body and soul. It’s important to note that self-care differs from person to person and what one person may consider to be nourishing for their soul and spirit – i.e. making a luxury purchase from time-to-time or spending the day cleansing their environment with Palo Santo – may not be as healing for another.
To help you get started on your self-care journey we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to practice nourishing our mind, body and spirit.
1. Get enough sleep
This seems like an obvious suggestion and we won’t dwell on it too long but as we get older and deadlines become tighter, getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep becomes less of a priority. This shouldn’t be the case since at its core, sleep is essential for all proper human functionality. It helps reduce stress, can improve your memory and can put you in a better mood.
2. Eat well
In a world where food can be delivered direct to your doorstep, it’s easy to fall into the habit of buying one too many takeaways and spending a small fortune on Uber Eats. Forgetting the environmental cost of ordering takeaway – most, if not all, takeaway food and drinks are packaged in plastic or other non-recyclable materials – the food we eat may not be providing our body with the nutrients we need. This can impact us in a variety of different ways including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, poor digestion and low energy. Eat whole foods that give your body what it needs function at its best. Self-care starts from within and if you feel good internally that will be reflected externally.
Moves like Jagger are not required and the only thing you need is an environment you feel comfortable to be your true, authentic self. Even music is optional. Shake off any bad energy that might’ve latched on to you during the day and give your body a good stretch by getting active. Allow yourself to get lost in your own rhythm and don’t think about how you look, only how you feel. It may be awkward at first but this is a fun way to learn how to be comfortable with yourself and your body.
4. Take time for yourself
Let’s face it, being accessible to everyone at all hours is something that’s celebrated. According to tech companies, people should be able to reach you on every device you own including your phone, your laptop, your watch and someday soon, even your toaster. This is extremely unhealthy. You are not required to respond to every message within minutes or answer every phone call you receive so you shouldn’t feel guilty for switching off. Switching off from others and taking time to focus on yourself is the cornerstone of self-care. Don’t feel guilty about turning down invitations or rejecting someone’s call at an ungodly hour, you’re allowed time away from others. Taking time for yourself can be as simple as taking a relaxing bath, turning your phone off for a few hours a day, unplugging from social media or doing whatever brings you joy.
5. Find a safe space
You need a place you can retreat to and recharge when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or defeated and I strongly urge you to create your own safe space or seek one out. A safe space can be the walls of a therapist’s office, your favourite yoga studio, a little corner at your favourite bookstore or even your bedroom. It’s a place where you feel at ease and most safe in the world. It’s a place that lifts your spirits and makes the pressures you face or the stress you feel less challenging.
We hope the suggestions mentioned on this list benefit you as much as they have benefitted us over the years. One last reminder, self-care is not optional, it is a necessity. If you do not look after your mind, body and spirit in meaningful ways you rob yourself of the benefits that come as a result of looking after yourself. The suggested methods may not work for you but there are many ways to practice self-care, you just need to find ways that make you feel nourished.
Written by Tariro Mukando