Why is self-care more critical now than ever? Well, we’re living in stressful times. Pandemic stress is a real thing. Watching news around the world and seeing the number of COVID cases climb doesn’t help. If you have kids trying to accomplish online learning while working from home, it is a huge stressor. Perhaps you live alone, and you’re feeling isolated and lonely. It’s winter, and there’s less vitamin D, so you’re also struggling with Seasonal Affected Disorder. There’s a lot to be worried about. Letting that worry build-up without giving yourself an outlet to decompress is a recipe for disaster.
What Is Self-Care Anyway?
If you have spent any time scrolling through social media, you have likely come across “#selfcare.” It’s almost always accompanying images of decadent baths scented with handmade bath bombs, lined with expensive looking 3–wick candles. Perhaps there is a glass of wine present and a paperback book in view. Is this what self-care is? Is my path to relaxation and enlightenment as simple as drawing a bath?
Once mental health became a buzz-worthy discussion, self-care soon followed, especially in the last year. Everyone was suddenly encouraged to pick up some bathing essentials before jumping on the bandwagon. These at-home DIY spa recreations were instantly synonymous with taking care of your mental health and well-being. If you’re not posting a boomerang of yourself tossing a brightly coloured bath bomb into your tub, do you even love yourself?
Let’s go back to the beginning and figure out what “self-care” really means. It’s merely taking the time to intentionally improve your mental state and overall well-being in its most basic form. That’s it. For some, yes, that does include baths and candles. But in the grand scheme of things, anything that fills you with joy and recharges you can be considered self-care.
That’s not for me…
Not everyone is the type of person that would find pleasure in soaking in bubbles. So how do we find what works for us? You need to know what recharges you. I suggest starting with the age-old question of “am I an introvert or an extrovert?”. I genuinely believe this is instrumental in working out a plan to take care of yourself. If you need other people to recharge, locking yourself in the bathroom for an evening of solitude could do very little to improve your mental state. An extrovert would benefit far more from an evening playing games with friends (over video chat during COVID-19) or sharing a meal with a group.
Introverts, on the other hand, tend to find contact with others to be draining. A quiet night in is far more valuable and reenergizing than venturing out into the wild world. Need a break from your family for 30 minutes? Why not lock yourself in the bathroom! However, if baths aren’t for you, fear not. A new book and a cup of tea, or a movie night are excellent options instead. Self-care is literally taking care of yourself. In the end, only you can define what that means and take action to improve your life.
What ISN’T self-care…
It should be said that having a glass of wine here and there is perfectly normal. As Julia Child always said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” however, there is sometimes too much of a good thing. Using drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings to avoid dealing with stress is not self-care. If you find yourself depending on substances to get through tough times, it could become a dangerous habit. If this is the case, please seek help.