My First Experience With Self-Care
I first heard the term “self-care” when I was in college studying Child and Youth Care. Our profs would tell us constantly how important self-care is in our profession and how it will ultimately prevent burnout. We would have conversations of what self-care meant, and how to fit it into our busy lives of being students and juggling placement and working.
So What is it, Really?
Self-Care, in it’s most basic form, is “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
Nowhere does that definition state self-care being the obligation to buy an 8$ bath bomb or $100 yoga mat each time we feel depleted. Or “treating ourselves” (don’t get me started on how much I despise the term “Treat Yo Self.”) to a 7$ Macchiato (jam-packed with sugar that will likely NOT help whatever mental/physical exhaustion you’re feeling) from Starbucks as a reward for going to class despite the lack of sleep and calling it self-care.
It’s Become Pure Consumerism
Self-care has been hi-jacked by retail companies, preying on people who just want to FEEL better. They target their products towards mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted individuals and charge insane prices because they know, we’ll buy the products just to try and feel better.
Our generation (Millenials) is obsessed with the $10billion self-care industry. Search the web for self-care and you’ll find hundreds of articles surrounding self-care, many of which encourage you to buy something that is likely overpriced and out of your budget (I mean common, we’re all in our 20’s here…none of us can afford $100 pillows and the daily $7 Starbucks Drink)
Here is my current favorite cringe-worthy example of “Self-Care” product marketing.
Self-Care keeps us in a perpetual state of consumerism. Buy the next self-help book. Buy that organic smoothie (but eat McDonald’s an hour later). Buy that bath bomb. Buy that soft overpriced sweater and claim it’s self-care. None of this is self-care. This is consumerism and we justify our over-spending by convincing ourselves it will benefit our health…But does it really?
So… What is Self-Care if it isn’t Spending Money?
Now that I’ve come clean about my dislike for the commercialism of self-care, I’ll tell you what I think self-care truly is and should be.
- Accessible to everyone: Fresh Air, Staying Hydrated, Spending time with people who lift you up, allowing yourself to sleep in once in a while, balancing your work-home life.
- Cheap/Free: Self-care shouldn’t put you in debt or prevent you from saving money. Notice nothing above costs money.
- Good for the body, mind, and soul: Home yoga videos (My fave is yogawithAdriene), spending time with animals (visit a shelter if you don’t have one), Learning a new skill (new recipes are an easy go-to).
Self-Care Isn’t Just the Fun Stuff
Though I would much rather buy another self-help book and read it in bed while sipping my overpriced smoothie. I know self-care is so much more than that. Self-care is the tough stuff. The boring and mundane.
Self-care is going to therapy and then actually DOING THE HOMEWORK so you don’t have to continue spending $100-250 a pop to listen to your therapist tell you the same shit.
And it’s paying your bills on time, putting money into savings so you can actually enjoy your life down the road, cleaning your space, sleeping when you need sleep, cooking healthy meals, reading self-help books (or better yet just reading about self-improvement online) and then DOING THE WORK instead of perpetually buying the books searching for deeper meaning, spending time with people who make you feel good.
Self-care is so much more than a retail experience.
Other Articles About Self-Care
Cheap/Free Self-Care Articles
I hope you can create a cost-free/cheap self-care routine ’cause you know going into debt and running from your problems isn’t self-care.