This past weekend, my friend randomly facetime called me on the way back home to check in and talk for a bit. We talked about some new things that had popped up in our lives, and our conversation just flowed wherever it wanted. About half an hour into the conversation, we somehow got onto the topic of self-care. Body massages, exercise routines and boxing, healthier food choices, and other ideas came into play.
And this made me pause for a bit because 1) it was about wellness - something I love thinking about and 2) my friend was a guy talking about self-care. The second reason made me pause because I don’t often hear men actually putting into words what they do for self-care. Maybe this isn’t that surprising, considering that the now-popular movement seems targeted towards the female audience (1). As another blogger put it, there is this “not-so-subtle suggestion… that women need to be reminded to care for themselves because, after all, they are so busy taking care of everyone else” (1). To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised that my friend mentioned it to me and could hear that he was happy to be doing things for himself.
My question to you is what does self-care mean to you?
In asking this, I want you to think about the things you do for yourself. I know, on social media it might seem like self-care is a certain way: the colorful fruit detoxes and the nice body massages and the aesthetic trips to the beach. It’s no wonder that self-care has become an $11 billion industry (2). In modern-day society, the image of self-care has become Instagrammable and mainstream, with millions of posts getting a #self-care tagged onto the bottom of it (3). This unfortunately invokes a feeling of indulgence - that you can spend money and use external stimuli to gain peace. But, that doesn’t quite feel right.
“Self-care: care for oneself” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
The definition for the word is very straightforward, so there’s no point in complicating what it means. Quite simply, it is something you do in order to relax, to de-stress, and to get in tune with yourself. You have to ask yourself, what can I do for myself? The answer to this doesn’t have to be the same as what others say; everyone is different. For example, look at the dog at the top of this blog. I look at that and smile, throw in a few giggles, because that looks like peace to me. Although I like to be up and about, sometimes a good rest is what I really want to be doing. But, other people could look at this picture and respond differently – they might not even like dogs. Self-care should be something that makes you feel good and calm, and that you can maybe do every day or every week. It doesn’t have to look pretty or be exciting. It just has to be about you.
Incorporating self-care into your life should not feel like a chore or another thing to cross off your to-do list. If the to-do list you use to organize your life is making you feel rushed, try eliminating things from the list. If meditation makes you feel even more inside your head, then exploring other mindfulness techniques may help. As much as stress and anxiety are an unavoidable part of life, you also deserve to have some calmness. For people who have mental health issues that get in the way of this search for peace, that lavender-scented body lotion might not help you but maybe that full-body massage will. What works for others might not work for you, and what works for you might not work for others. Understand what triggers you have and work with them. You might just surprise yourself.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Regularly get a good night’s sleep
- Go on a daily walk
- Call a good friend of yours
- Read one of your favorite books or magazines
- Watch that Netflix show that you’ve been wanting to see
- Listen to music that you enjoy
- Talk with a therapist or other health professional
- Learn how to say “no” more often
1. Forman, Tami. “Self-Care Is Not An Indulgence. It’s A Discipline.” Path Forward, 11 April 2019. https://www.pathforward.org/self-care-is-not-an-indulgence-its-a-discipline/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6_mr25SF4wIVBNNkCh3FdQF0EAAYASAAEgJHq_D_BwE
2. Lieberman, Charlotte. “How Self-Care Became So Much Work.” Harvard Business Review, 10 Aug 2018. https://hbr.org/2018/08/how-self-care-became-so-much-work
3. Love, Shayla. “The Dark Truths Behind Our Obsession With Self-Care.” Vice, 11 Dec 2018. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmdwm4/the-young-and-the-uncared-for-v25n4
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