Self care seems to be everywhere at the moment. You don’t need to look far on any social media platform to find dozens of people extolling what they do for their self care. I frequently post on this important topic as I feel it’s so vital to our individual well-being to make sure we’re looking after ourselves not just weekly but ideally daily too.
While it is great that the profile of self care has been increased, I feel there is an insidious problem that lies within. The idea and ethos of self care has become diluted and has even become damaging. Celebrities and social media influences often post showing themselves looking stunning in complicated yoga poses, eating beautiful meals, relaxing on stunning beaches etc. While these things are most definitely in the realm of self care, how achievable are they for the rest of us? There have been numerous studies that tell us how social media can be bad for our health, increasing anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation, the fear of missing out and not being good enough to name just a few.
Does seeing how others ‘do’ self care have a similar impact on us and are we left with unrealistic expectations that this is what constitutes self care? That to do it ‘properly’ we need to bend our bodies into shapes they do not want/are not ready to go into, that we need to go out and eat expensive meals or go to expensive destinations? When we look at social media for inspiration for our own self care are we contributing to the problem?
I believe self care comes, like so many other things do, on a spectrum. Maybe it isn’t about doing either the flash things or nothing at all but looking at all the different shades in between. Maybe it’s about recognising when we need to go to bed a bit earlier, turn off our electronic devices for 15 minutes to read a chapter of a book we like, take 30 seconds out of the day to just breathe or, doing what I have done today, sitting and watching TV in my pyjamas all day.
I don’t think self care is the answer to everything, a self help remedy, the be all and end all, the reason not to do things, avoid a challenge or a ‘get out of jail free card’. I think it is a way of caring for ourselves (as if we don’t look after ourselves how can we care for others?), of making sure we don’t burnout and a way of finding some enjoyment in our lives. It, for me, is all about balance. If we don’t have the darkness how do we know what the light is? If we don’t have balance in our lives, offset a busy, challenging life with some calm and enjoyment we can tip too far into doing and move away from the being.
Now I am off to watch another film
What small bit of self care have you done/can you do today?
Written by Ruth Taylor, Online & Telephone Counsellor at Professional Help