Self-care—we’ve seen it everywhere, from inspirational Instagrams posts hashtagged #selfcaresunday, to bloggers and YouTubers discussing their “self-care routine”. The idea is to take care of yourself through rituals such as baths and at-home facials. These are believed to help nurture your mental health and have been highly popularised on social media. But as I scroll through #self-care on Instagram, I can’t help but wonder… what actually is self-care? And why has it become such a thing?
According to the Self Care Forum, self-care is “the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness”. That makes sense, but it doesn’t seem very exciting. So, why is it that the world of Instagram, including myself, is drawn to the idea of self-care, by way of sheet masks and Netflix in bed on a Saturday night? It’s not just those typical elements that make up a self-care routine right? Self-care can manifest through technology detox retreats, eating comfort food (mine is kimchi tofu soup, but to each their own, right?), yoga, facial treatments such as gua sha or rose quartz rolling, and so many other options depending on the individual. It’s certainly an individual’s preference, as is evident in the 7.9 million #selfcare posts, each post documenting a different activity.
“…you’re taking care of yourself in the best way possible, and you’re proud of it!”
This is perhaps a testament to the real allure of self-care—it is for everyone. Taking care of your own body and mind is a highly personal matter; it takes knowing oneself to care for oneself. While some find enjoyment in a luxurious spa treatments, others seek meditation and a DIY facial massages to calm their anxiety or overworked minds. The art of self-care is to personalise it to your own liking. What you should choose to do to is what you’re comfortable with, and decide when to post it on social media is celebrating you—you’re taking care of yourself in the best way possible, and you’re proud of it!
That being said, practising self-care is like discovering a skin care routine. The more activities you try out, the more you understand what works. It can even be as simple as going for a walk. I started out with putting on a Aesop Chamomile Anti-Blemish mask, lighting a Byredo Cotton Poplin scented candle and reading The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. That’s it—some light exfoliation and nice book. Don’t get me wrong, I still do it (the best weekend nights in my opinion!), but I have now realised that I am actually seeking refuge from the chaotic, anxiety-inducing Outside World. The value of all these products and activities is that they allow me to invest in quality time alone.
Now, I find myself more comfortable turning down plans, taking a break from the gym or choosing to stay in instead of going out for a drink, because that week, that day, or even that hour felt just a little bit too much. So, that is what self-care can truly be—knowing what makes you comfortable and drawing boundaries to leave space to do things that calm you down.