With the wellness industry having basically taken over the world in the last couple of years, self-care is one of those phrases you just can’t get away from. A quick search on the ‘gram brings up gorgeous photos of baths with actual roses in them (do people even do that in real life?), beautiful women peeling off charcoal face masks (I can only assume they’re fighting back the tears like champs) and smoothie bowls that inevitably require about 50 different ingredients (most likely including turmeric). While these are all, no doubt, excellent examples of self-care….they’re just so much effort. If you’re going through a tough time, or struggling with poor mental health, even having a shower can seem like an insurmountable task, smoothie bowl is a definite no. According to the NHS Self Care Forum, self-care is defined as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness’.
The way I see it – especially from the point of view of someone with a mental illness – self-care is simply anything non-destructive you can do to make yourself feel happier in the short term.
As someone who isn’t massively into things like smoothie bowls and baths (controversial, I know), here are some examples of self-care that might not result in Insta worthy snaps, but will definitely help to improve your mood and, if nothing else, will force you to get out of your own head for a while.
- Netflix and chill your own damn self. Who says Netflix and chill is reserved for Tinder dates and BFFs only? Find a binge-worthy series, make yourself a hot cup of cocoa, and settle in for a few hours of escapism. Need some inspiration? If you’re in the mood for true crime, try The Keepers, for twist-after-twist drama, How to Get Away With Murder, or for so-silly-you’re-ashamed-to-laugh-but-can’t-help-it comedy, get started on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – enjoy!
- Cook something new. Or even something old (as in you’ve made it before…please refrain from cooking with gone off food). If you’ve been feeling particularly low, chances are the only time you’ve seen your kitchen over the last couple of weeks is to grab a fork for your take out. In this case, even preparing something out of a jar is a step in the right direction. If you’re in a slightly better place, why not take the time to try out a new recipe? It doesn’t even have to have turmeric in it 😏
- Do your nails. I’m not talking about an artistic representation of fruit on each of your tiny nails here. Literally just taking the time to put on a couple of coats of nail polish can help to relax you by focusing your mind on something simple and easy. You can achieve the same results by shaving your beard/stubble, indulging in a hair mask/facial or pretty much any other at-home beauty regime. The key here is giving yourself enough time to do this without rush and without distraction, and with the intention of just enjoying the process, not obsessing over the outcome 👏
- Call your mum. Or another family member, or a friend – anyone who you can comfortably be on the phone with for ages. Speaking to someone you love and who loves you back is a great way to look after yourself. So often, our internal monologue dishes out comments we wouldn’t dream of saying to anyone else – hearing external words of kindness is the perfect way to quiet that voice. Whether you use it to talk through your problems and get a second opinion or distract yourself by discussing the latest goss, a call with one of your faves can be the ultimate self care.
- Do whatever you want – no guilt! At the end of the day, SELF-care is as individual as we are, hence its name. The key is to do whatever makes you happy, regardless of what the latest magazine articles are hailing as the ‘right’ way to nail this wellness malarkey. Remember, self-care should be non-destructive, but even a glass of wine and catch up with your best friends is allowed. A Bikram yoga class is allowed. A huge slice of chocolate cake and a trashy book is allowed. This isn’t one size fits all – as long as you’re true to your wants, needs and capabilities at that time, it’s self-care – don’t let the haters tell you otherwise.
What are some of your favourite acts of self-care? Share them with us in the comments!
If you want to hear more on this topic, come along to the Summer of Change Festival’s Health & Wellbeing day, where I will join a panel to discuss fitting self-care in around a busy lifestyle.