How to Reimagine Self-Care For Longer Results

Self-care is often associated with elaborate skincare routines, matcha lattes, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and eating massive amounts of your favorite, decadent food -  perfect for staying in all day. I emphasize all day because before, we would squeeze in time for self-care due to our usually hectic week. Since the start of the pandemic, there is more time for self-care days. There is the possibility of more creative and slower ways to practice self-care. How do you go about practicing self-care when there are so many ardent alternatives to a somewhat planned routine - how do you make a fixed idea on self-care more authentic?

Self-care measures how much we value time with and for ourselves, so it is only right to do things that make us happy. That is why I’m telling you there is no right or wrong formula when creating a self-care routine. 

Maria Freyre Original photo by Maria Freyre

On Cultivating Self-Love 

I blur the lines between self-care and self-love. Self-care is more than doing things that you love - it is also choosing what is right for you mentally, emotionally, and physically. Indulging is only a short term variation of really taking care of yourself. It is not just what feels good, but what is healthy. Most importantly, self-care is getting to know yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.

Find a Balance 

While it is nice to indulge under the umbrella of self-care, make sure this does not lead to a kind of lazy burnout. This feeling is a little too new yet, too unbearable when it becomes a habit. It’s the kind of burnout you get from hardcore binge watching TV shows, spending hours on social media, boredom eating everything within reach in the kitchen - you know the gist. 

With more time on our hands, it is easier for the root of these burnouts to creep in and live in our homes rent-free. To avoid falling into a rut, try to balance between activities that tap into a necessity or a goal, and you genuinely enjoy, whether they satisfy a professional or personal growth criteria checkmark. For example, try cooking healthier versions of typically unhealthy foods. Maybe watch a documentary about a subject you’re interested in and spend less time scrolling on TikTok. Find new workouts on YouTube, research, try out face masks, and maybe even browse social media to search for pictures for a manifestation board. There’s no end in sight to the number of possibilities you can come up with. 

Books and Coffee Original photo by Maria Freyre

Reconnect with Your Childhood

These past months I had to become my own best friend because the social life I once had was no longer possible. I was back in my childhood bedroom, and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic over long forgotten memories. Making something out of that nostalgia became self care. There is an innate sense of self that exists during childhood. As kids, nothing was embarrassing, weird, or uncool about what we were passionate about. Everything we did was normal to us. Everything felt like play. I believe iotas of who we were as children stick with us as we grow up. But as we become more and more distanced from this self, the harder it is to articulate who we’ve become. 

Back home I practiced self-care by reconnecting with my childhood self, and I highly recommend this. What were you nerdy about before growing up? What did you love to do? Was it making movies on your phone, painting, writing short stories, dressing up? Were you into science books or fairy tales? Remember the things that made you happy. Nostalgia will inspire initiative and a longer bucket list. 

Turn Nostalgia Into Action 

Now that you have reacquainted yourself with childhood interests, try to build a bridge between them and what you are currently passionate about. Is there common ground between a childhood passion and a goal you’re working towards? You do not have to think only in the context of long-term career goals (professional productivity is another topic). Maybe you’ve been wanting to bake something and decide to take on the challenge of making chocolate chip cookies your grandmother made. Maybe nostalgia made you rewatch your favorite Disney movie. Wherever nostalgia leads you, revisiting a place or an object of happiness is one of the most comforting and productive things you can do. 

Cinderella on Laptop Original photo by Maria Freyre

Self-care is more than a routine; it is something you can practice everyday. It is all about mindfulness, which you foster through practices that are effortless and unique to you. The key to a healthier, more enjoyable time is to incorporate your take on self care into your daily routine until they become habits - until you think about self care not as a practice but as a lifestyle.