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What is True Self Care?
What does self care actually mean?
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of self-care? Is it an image of a beautiful candle-lit bubble bath? Or a sheet face mask with cucumbers cooling the eyes? Or a deep-tissue massage? You are not alone. While the images in question are luxuries that could be a part of self-care—that’s not ALL self-care is.
Self-care is so much more.
If we look at the dictionary definition, self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health—The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.
Real self-care goes beyond the superficial. It requires action, and effort and is actually synonymous with self-love.
The popular definition of self-care is narrow, easy and far more lucrative. No one has latched on tighter to this definition than the marketers of products we buy and use, especially in the beauty and wellness industries. We all want to believe we practice self-care but instead of focusing on its true meaning, we pay lip-service to the concept of self-care. We step into the beautiful bubble bath we’ve made for ourselves but we’re not kind to ourselves when we make a mistake. We buy and apply that face mask but we neglect to drink enough water.
This superficial definition of self-care deceives people into thinking that they are caring for themselves and instead fuels consumerism, add-to-carts, and delays real self-care for most.
The difference between superficial self-care and real self-care
Self-care is a trend—which is great—however, we, along with brands, have quickly adopted the simplest and most superficial definition of self-care, ignoring the real potential for healing and happiness within the true concept.
Why is self-care important?
But both camps of self-care, will agree that self-care is important.
Self-care is important because we can not fill someone else’s cup, if ours is empty. Every flight security video advises passengers to put on their mask before helping others. We can not sustainably neglect our own needs and be in true service of others.
In the chaos of the world, it is easier to focus outwards instead of inwards. It is easy for a mother to care for the clear and expressive needs of her screaming baby but it is so important for her to care for her own quieter needs. It is important for the adult to give themselves the kind of love they craved but may not have received as a child from their parents or family unit.
How do you practice self-care and self-love?
The answer lies in the definition. If the goal is to improve and protect one’s own well-being and happiness we need to consider all the factors that contribute to our well-being and happiness. Can a deep tissue massage improve our well-being and/or happiness? Maybe in a temporary way but not in a way that is meaningful. In order to achieve a true state of well-being or happiness, most of us need a mix of love, appreciation, confidence, nurturing relationships with a partner and/or friends, a sense of community, healthy finances, meaningful and enjoyable work, a healthy body that feels good and is performing optimally.
Now if we were asked to consider the actions and activities that we believe will help us work towards the goals above? It would include setting goals to grow as people, being kinder to ourselves, eating fresh and wholesome foods, money management, investing in therapy, spending more time with people and in communities that are good for us and spending less time with people and in situations that are toxic for us.
True self-care is not a quick fix. It takes time and work. Really holding a mirror up to oneself and healing from the inside out. The instinct to self-preserve and shy away from growing pains is natural, but once you challenge your own threshold, it will only continue to expand.
Real self-care or self-love is not an escape from our life, it is the act of building a life that you do not need to or want to escape from.