Self-care has become a millennial buzzword and there is probably not a single lifestyle blogger left who has not yet shared their tips, insights or thoughts on practicing self-care. Yet within the midst of a generation looking after itself, there is also a more critical voice emerging. The concept of self-care has been called meaningless and some people have complained about the fact that self-care has been taken hostage by commercialism. With self-care kits, mason jars and scented candles roaming the market it is no wonder some might take issue with yet another commercial wellness hype. Still, I believe, that self-care is timely important and deeply valuable. When separating the wheat from the chaff and zooming in on the core of self-care, we can realize that self-care is not just an indulgent ego-trip. It is a practice necessary to be able to serve others.
Self-care is selfless
Granted, the commercialisation of self-care makes criticism of the concept well-grounded. But anyone who has ever struggled with a burn-out, stress, low energy, illness or mental health issues will know that when you are consistently not feeling your best, this greatly impairs what you can do for others. Self-care is, therefore, a simple necessity in our hectic society that will prevent us from getting to a place where we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, but also those around us. Feeling healthy, rested and vital means you can direct enough energy and attention to helping others. In this way, self-care is not an indulgent, ego-driven privilege of the few. It is instead a necessary requirement of the many to be better lovers, friends, parents, colleagues and general members of society.
Self-care is individual
How much self-care you need will depend on the type of person you are and what phase of your life you are in. A general rule of thumb to remember is that the busier you are, the more self-care you will need. This may seem counterintuitive at first but being busy will tend to rob you from a lot of energy. It is therefore important to replenish this energy consistently and proactively.
‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.’
What type of self-care will benefit you most is also highly individual. The important point is to be still for a moment and listen to yourself and your own needs. One person might feel recharged after reading their favourite book with a cup of tea, whereas someone else might be able to unwind best by going clubbing with their friends (I am just putting this in here for inclusivity – as an extreme introvert this is hard for me to believe).
My self-care routine
Below you can find my daily and weekly self-care practices. As you can see, they are vague and intentionally so. I know that moving my body, eating healthy, finding quiet time and respecting my own boundaries makes me feel good. I also know that setting myself strict goals, checklists and self-care quotas will only leave me feeling more stressed. Keeping my self-care habits intentionally broad, means I can approach them in a way that feels authentic each day.
Listening to my body – by now I have become quite good at understanding what my body needs. Giving into exhaustion and just resting or going for a restorative walk when I have a lot on my mind are just some of the ways I listen to my body.
Respecting myself – respecting myself means saying no to whatever does not serve me that day (within the realms of reality – quitting a nice job or happy relationship because I am having a bad day does not count). It also means respecting myself enough to say yes to things I know I will enjoy.
Movement – I walk to work, so on weekdays I know I am getting at least an hour of movement. But beyond that, I like to move my body as much as I can because I know it will make me feel healthy. Hard exercise is too straining for me since my ‘burn-out’, so I usually keep my movement to long walks, pilates, and yoga.
Quietness – Each day I like to take a moment for quietness. I have attempted strict meditation schedules in the past, but I could never stick to them. Now I just like to be quiet for a while every day, whether it is in meditation, during a walk, laying in bed daydreaming or taking a bath.
Nourishment – Healthy food is such an important part of the wellness equation. I have always eaten moderately healthy, but since going vegan I have become really intentional about my food to ensure I am receiving all the nutrients needed to feel energised and fit.
Digital detox – Once a week or at least once a month I like to completely switch off from my computer for a day. That means no social media, but also no Netflix or blogging. I find so much stillness in these days that they have become an integral part of my self-care routine.
Creation – Creating rather than consuming can be a cathartic experience and often releases emotions. I like to create every single week, from baking creations and drawings to furniture upcycle projects and blog posts. My favourite way of creating is through writing, so besides blog posts, I also enjoy writing essays and short stories just for myself.
Nature – This is an absolute must for me, particularly in winter. In the summer months, I will usually go on a day trip to the surrounding countryside most weekend anyway. But in winter I have had to become intentional about spending time in nature regularly, even if it is just a little stroll in a nearby park.
Connection – Authentic connection with the people I love is, of course, an important way to boost my vitality. Even though I live with my boyfriend, on a day-to-day basis we do not always connect authentically. So I make sure that at least once a week, we spend a few hours to just focus on each other. When I see friends and family, I also try to be in the moment as much as possible.
Reflection – Each week I like to reflect on my goals and habits to ensure I am still heading in a direction that feels good for me. Seeing where I can improve my life and what needs a little more attention ensures I stay on top of feeling healthy and happy. Equally celebrating what is working well is a great way to add a little happiness to life.
I track my self-care habits in my bullet journal and sometimes might add a few specific habits to a monthly tracker, such as taking certain supplements. As I am human, I fail at self-care sometimes. There might be times where I feel too overwhelmed or busy that I forget to do all the things that I know will make me feel better. But whenever I return to these habits and practices, it does so much good for me.
What are some of your favourite self-care habits?