I’ve often found myself, having fallen deep into yet another Youtube rabbit hole, watching video upon video of people’s self-care routines. Lemon water, yoga, a skin-care routine, taking a bath in candlelight…The list of the things people count as part of their routines never ends. And while all of these things can definitely benefit you and make you feel better, they are not always realistic for every day life.
I am a really big believer in self-care but I haven’t always been. And honestly, it had a lot to do with the way that self-care is portrayed. It seemed to just be about self-indulgence. As an unfortunate result of the 21st century’s Instagram obsession, self-care has become associated with boasting an image that is often unattainable. Social media perpetuates an image of commercialised self-care. And for the most part, it’s a disguised advertisement for a brand that is trying to sell it’s hair vitamins, facial cleansers and other products.
The day-to-day reality seems to be forgotten. I’ve come to learn that it’s not about a routine that you do on a certain day. It’s not about using expensive products and trying to perfect your downwards dog! To truly care for your wellbeing, there are things you can do every day that mean that you are actively aspiring to better your mental and physical self. These simple ways can be easily incorporated into your daily life.
One of the most important things people need but often dismiss as being important, is the right amount of sleep. Sleeping too little or too much will most likely leave you feeling exhausted or lethargic. It may seem impossible that you could sleep too much. However, research has shown that any deviation from normal sleeping patterns can be detrimental. It may cause you to feel tired throughout the day despite how long you’ve slept. In order to improve your well being, you need to deliberately decide to go to bed at a certain time and wake up at a certain time. The recommended average amount of time that an adult should sleep for is between 7 and 9 hours. In doing this, you will eventually regulate your sleeping pattern and the days of fatigue will be behind you!
Recognition and Action
As humans, we tend to make mistakes. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can learn from our mistakes and grow as people. Self-care has become a sort of movement in the last few years. However, many have thus grown reluctant to acknowledge that self-care can easily lead to self-sabotage- if not practised properly. To be better, we need to recognise the things that we need to change and improve in our lives, and about ourselves.
When you are preparing for a maths exam, you study and revise the different things that will be on the test, so that you can get the best grade you can. But, by studying and learning, you are not devaluing your intelligence level. You are recognising that you can improve on how much you know and how well you know it. You aim higher.
It’s the same when it comes to our personalities.
We are flawed people who sometimes do immoral and sometimes just stupid things. But, in order to truly better ourselves and practise self-care, we have to actively make an effort to amend our wrongs to be better people. We aim higher. This doesn’t mean you have to constantly criticise the things you do. It simply means that you need to be aware that we all have room for improvement, accepting that you have flaws and changing for the better when it badly affects you or others around you.
If you are someone who doesn’t have a gym membership (or has one that they don’t use) and who genuinely laughs at the notion of themselves exercising, this is for you. Exercising isn’t about getting to the gym, lifting weights or running for an hour on a treadmill if it doesn’t work for you. Gyms aren’t for everyone nor can everyone afford to be a member, but as humans, we need to move. Moving is essential in order to keep us healthy and to improve our mood… but, it doesn’t require a gym membership.
The most important aspect of exercise is consistency and in order to achieve consistency, you need to do something that you enjoy. Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing and feel like you’re able to do and dedicate part of your week to it. It could just be walking for a few hours a week or going dancing with your friends but if it elevates your heart rate, this means you’ll be taking better care of your body. This will benefit your mental health too as you’ll feel yourself getting fitter and you won’t experience the dread of doing the things you probably once disliked.
Spending time with friends and family
Our happiest times are often the ones that we have shared with others, so, it makes sense that spending time with people you care about is a great way to practise self-care. By having days that you know you will spend with your friend, who you haven’t seen in a while or with your mum on her day off, you have things to look forward to and this will help with your mental wellbeing. Allowing yourself to have fun and doing the things that make you happy is important for self-care. Without it, you could wind up getting stuck in a cycle that is focused solely on work/college. This will leave you feeling as though there is no respite and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Therefore, having fun times is just as important as being responsible and sticking to deadlines!
As a movement, self-care has been exploited and its true meaning has been twisted and warped to fit a commercial criteria. But, as an idea, self-care is yours to explore. The things one person does in order to practise self-care will not work for another person and so it is about exploring what works for you and for understanding why it is important. By considering your wellness in every day life, you are moving towards a mentally and physically more able and happy person than you were the day before. And you can do it- without the detox juice cleanse!