What pops into your mind when you hear the term “Self-Care Day?” Is it a bubble bath and a face mask? That’s what always occurred to me. But the truth is, self-care isn’t one extravagant night. It’s not something you can drink or slather on your face. In fact, it’s not something you can buy at all. Capitalism did what capitalism does, and somewhere along the line, the most basic of health maintenance turned into some kind of commodity.
But let’s get back to basics now, what is self-care? Because it’s actually really important, despite the cringy way the term’s been co-opted. Self-care is prioritizing yourself, your health, and your future. It’s maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan, it’s drawing boundaries with the people in your life, it’s going to bed even when you still have a paper to finish because you know that your health comes first. It’s not indulgence and most of the time, it’s really not easy.
What’s ironic and infuriating is the way that the original meaning of the term has been almost completely inverted. People will now use the term to apply to self-sabotaging behavior, as if drinking an entire bottle of wine can in any way apply to self-care.
It’s not that indulging yourself is necessarily a bad thing, we all deserve to let loose and enjoy a face mask every once and awhile. But I think it’s really important that we acknowledge self care for what it really is, rather than what the 11 billion dollar a year ‘self care’ industry wants you to believe you can buy. A face mask isn’t going to make you feel better long term, it’s a bandaid on a stab wound.
If you really want to prioritize your self care, take a critical look at the habits that you’ve made in your life. What ones are serving you long term? Which ones are helping your mental and physical health? What habits would you like to form and why haven’t you done them yet? The self-care that is really going to serve you is likely going to be the things that aren’t easy, but once you identify the habits in your life you’d like to cultivate, you’re one step closer to setting up a lifestyle that serves you.