Self-care has become an Instagram buzz word. Imagery comes to mind of mani/pedis, candle lit salt baths, of 'splurging' on the self. This kind of self-care exists in a world where we're told to 'hustle', to be more, be better, to do more. And then, exhausted, we run that bath, purchase that new thing because 'we deserve it' and then....
Caring for the self is a very misunderstood thing. While there is a place for treats and indulgence, Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so deeply exhausted that we need to tune out our endless pursuit of an illusive 'better life'. Consumer self-care is what we're so often told and sold. And we've learned this is what self-care is. It's quick, easy but never quite fills the internal cup. Whole-hearted self-care is about parenting ourselves, about making choices that support our long term wellness. It's about letting go of the idea that we must 'fix ourselves' and instead it is about beginning to take care of ourselves. Perhaps looking at the parts of our hectic and sometimes unreasonably demanding lives and letting go of some of the striving and longing and the aiming to 'be better'.
We have this. Here. Now. This body, this heart, this mind to look after. So how?
Self-care is preventative. It is often doing the thing you least want to do. It might mean looking at your accounts and re-working how spending happens so there's less pressure. It might mean cooking healthy meals for yourself so you feel grounded and stable. It might mean disappointing others at times, to honour the voice within that says 'we're at capacity, let's not take that on'. It might mean setting boundaries (with the self and with others). It might mean letting go of some beliefs about our bodies or lives that keep us running the wheel. It might mean we opt out of particular social media feeds that promote bodies or lives that focus on the superficial, that don't inspire the soul or wholly speak to the gut or heart.
Self-care is about allowing ourselves to be as we are, normal, unexceptional, yet brilliantly unique. Allowing ourselves to step our own path with confidence at a pace that feels good, right. Self-care is reaching out for support when the load is hefty, connecting with a counsellor or therapist to look at the uncomfortable stuff, the hard stuff, that is often ignored in life's busy. Self-care is about not trying to be wonder woman every single day.