“Self-care”. What a loaded term.
Technically speaking, self-care is the individual practice of health management without the aid of a medical professional.
In reality, self-care has ballooned into a $450 billion industry trying to sell you everything from scented candles to green juice subscriptions to colour-coordinated weight sets. All in the name of creating your best self.
This commodification of wellness is, well, exhausting.
TikTok Strikes Again
TikTok showed me a video last week that perfectly encapsulated the problem that I have with self-care as it exists on social media. You’ve probably seen something similar - the ‘you can be better if you just follow this routine’ type vlog.
Basically, you can be thin, healthy, beautiful, successful and reach your dreams. All you need is a little self-care.
These vlogs are practically all the same. Wake up at 5 a.m., set your intention for the day, meditate on a fancy cushion, journal in a personalized notebook, workout in a coordinated set, drink a fancy green juice, complete a 17 step skin care routine, make picture perfect smoothie bowl. Start work.
Every time I see one of these videos, I am exhausted just watching them. I am truly exhausted by the sheer number of things I am apparently expected to do if I want to be ‘successful’ and create ‘the life I’ve always wanted’.
Setting aside the fact that a lot of what we are able to achieve in life comes down to how much privilege we are born with and into, how is following one influencers recipe for success going to help you reach your dream life? Unless you want their life, and not your own.
It’s On You
In a lot of ways, self-care is peddled as a way for you to take your success into your own hands. Which obviously means if you fail to manifest your dreams, it is no one’s fault but your own. And it certainly has nothing to do with the systemic realities of our capitalist society (read: sarcasm).
So, if you want to take a walk down self-care lane but you’re not interesting in buying every product that is peddled to you by Instagram influencers, what are your options?
In other words, is minimalist self-care a thing? How do we get to self-care basics?
When I think of self-care, I think less of exhausting two-hour long morning routines to help me be a ‘girl boss’, and more of the small things I can do on a daily basis to take care of myself.
Here’s my version of self-care:
Remembering to take my medication every morning.
Trying to eat something small for breakfast so I don’t feel ill by mid-morning (I go through phases of being very hungry and not at all hungry in the morning, but I always regret not eating something).
Filling up my massive mason jar with water and trying to finish it over the course of the day (it’s not nearly the 64 ounces that is often recommended but I’m working on it).
Doing something once a day that’s just for me. Sometimes that is reading a book, sometimes it is working on a fun new project for Scrap Heap Goods and sometimes it’s taking the time to make a tasty snack.
Moving my body a little bit each day. Depending on the day, that looks like; walking around my neighbourhood with my partner after work; doing some yoga on my lunch break; or working out on Skype with a friend.
I don’t always hit all of these everyday (except obviously my medication, that’s not really optional). But do I feel like I failure when I don’t hit every one on the list? No.
I’ll be honest, writing all of that down felt a little overwhelming and I’m sorry if it stressed you out.
But what I’m trying to get at is self-care isn’t something to ‘win’ or ‘conquer’. Because it’s about taking care of yourself and doing what will serve you most in the moment. That will look different for every person, and probably will be different every day.
I don’t think you can dive into an Instagram version of self-care and expect for it to be sustainable for you. It’s too cookie-cutter and frankly, it looks like a lot of freaking work.
That’s not to say that putting in the effort to take care of yourself isn’t worth it, because you are absolutely worth taking care of.
But if our so-called self-care routines are causing us to be more stressed and anxious when we don’t achieve ‘perfection’, they might be worth taking a second look at.
Don’t you think?
Until next time, keep living that tiny life.
Image Credit: Unsplash