Self-care is a popular concept. It is meant to help people cope with the stress of everyday life and make it normal for people to make themselves a priority in a society where we are expected to put everything else first.
As it becomes more mainstream, we start to look at it in a different way. The meaning of self-care has become to spoil yourself; face masks, bubble baths and treat-your-self days. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to relax, but self-care has moved further away from the mental care we need.
Self-care is about taking care of yourself, not just treating yourself. Which means sometimes you have to do things that you would rather not do. Mental well-being means cleaning your room instead of living in your clutter, cooking a good meal at home instead of going to McDonald’s for the third time this week, socializing with friends even though all you want to do is watch TV alone in your room.
When we are stressed, the last thing we think of is cleaning our room. We don’t realize that living in mess and clutter adds to our stress levels. When we’re tired and hungry fast food is so much easier than cooking something at home, but the effect of junk food on our body can harm our mental health just as bad.
I’m not saying you have to keep your room immaculate, cook gourmet meals or constantly be socializing with people. That isn’t realistic. Stress is part of life which means your room will get messy, you might choose to eat out instead of cooking and some nights you will stay home alone.
That’s okay! Self-care is about balance, there are times when you need to follow your impulses and do what feels right. As long as you develop healthy habits that actually help you. Things like taking out the trash when it starts to smell, doing your laundry, getting into a healthy sleep schedule, etc. Basically doing the “adult” things no one wants to do.
Self-care is more than just doing a facemask. It is actually taking care of yourself in a way so many people, especially college students, don’t do. We contribute to our stress when we don’t take care of ourselves, so stop buying “self-care products” and start investing in your health.