The term ‘self-care’ has been bandied around a lot recently, especially in the media, working as a catch-all term for comforting activities. But when you break it down, what does it really mean and how can we incorporate it into our lives?
Looking at the words separately, ‘care’ implies some sort of basis in medicine. When a doctor creates a treatment plan for you, you are considered under their ‘care’.
Adding the word ‘self’ gives the individual a choice in treatment. If you are advised by a doctor to undertake self-care, it is recognised that you have the capacity to choose what’s best for you, outside the realm of medicine.
What this care entails depends largely on the individual; for some it may involve a long walk on the beach, for others it could be sitting down to watch their favourite TV series.
What self-care is not
Some people can confuse self-care with self-medicating. This carries the connotation of using drugs, alcohol, food or even technology in an unhealthy way. Going out and buying yourself a new pair of pajamas for example, could be considered a harmless form of self-care. Going out every day and spending large chunks of your wages on material possessions however, is not self-care.
Making this distinction can trip people up as they believe they can do anything they want, no matter how unhealthy, because they are labelling it as ‘self-care’. Think about the self-care activities you’re choosing and ask yourself if they will truly improve your well-being.
Stuck for ideas? Try the following:
- Listen to a podcast/audiobook – Listening to stories is one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Hearing someone tell a story can take us back to our childhood, when our parents read bedtime stories to us. Listening instead of reading also frees you up physically, so you can sprawl out on the sofa, or even play it on a speaker while enjoying a bath.
- Spend time with animals – If you have a pet, you are probably well aware of their de-stressing abilities. If you don’t, why not plan a trip to the zoo or just go for a walk in nature where you can listen to the birds?
- Enjoy quiet time – Noise is known for increasing anxiety and stress levels, so sometimes our bodies crave a little quiet time. You can spend this time meditating, or simply becoming aware of your breathing.