The word ‘self-care’ must be the Hygge of 2018. As once we threw faux rugs, fairy lights and massive cushions around our homes with abandon, now we’re having candle-lit baths, drinking more water and learning how to meditate. If you’re able, that is: I can’t seem to sit still in a room for longer than 2 minutes unless there is a computer of phone screen in front of me (which is why I should probably persist with all those meditation apps).
But what is ‘self-care’ really?
When discussing it with a chortling friend last year I couldn’t believe it when she asked me if self-care was a euphemism for masturbation; I’m pretty sure it’s not, I told her, but I sure will enjoy re-reading all those ‘finding time for self-care’ blog posts with that potential fact in the back of my head.
When the sniggers had stopped we deduced that basically,it can be whatever you want it to be. It’s perhaps a development on the old ‘me time’, the thing we’re told we should do more of as mums (going to the supermarket alone doesn’t count, am I right?) as an attempt to re-gain some of the sanity we lost during pregnancy, birth and our subsequent sleep deprivation.
I did a lil bit of research on the whole self-care tip and surprisingly, taking the time out to nurture our own wellbeing is pretty bloody important. You see, the problem with the lives we currently live is that everything can feel quite scary: it ain’t all millennial pink, flat whites and footloose Freelance careers. For example, I know I lose more than a little bit of sleep over the awful economy (I bought my first house in a time where providers offered 110% mortgages, CAN YOU IMAGINE), Brexit, my Instagram account and Trump’s nuclear war button: as a proud control freak it terrifies me there are all these crazy things going on in the world that I can’t do anything about. And with all those worries weighing heavy on my mind it takes only one tiny bit of otherwise inconsequential news to tip me over the edge, so it’s very sensible to do everything I can to make sure I’m as soothed and relaxed as possible the majority of the time.
Mind, the mental health charity agrees: “Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage or prevent many mental health problems” they say. “There are many things you can do to promote a good sense of self-care, from nourishing your social life to looking after your physical health and making time for therapeutic activities, like reading or mindfulness”.
Taking time recently to practice a good amount of self-care myself I have actually noticed quite the difference in my mindset. The biggest effort I have made is to just stop fretting about work: it used to take up such a huge amount of brain space and I feel so open now it’s gone. Let’s face it, blogging isn’t brain surgery so I shouldn’t worry about it as such, and letting that part of my life go has felt so freeing. I’m like freaking Maria on top of her hill.
I’ve also started going to bed earlier. A small change but one that’s made a huge difference, meaning I now wake up wanting to greet the morning rather than stick two fingers up at it. My earlier bedtime has also meant I have time to read nightly (while drinking chamomile tea and listening to Classic FM like a true middle-class parody), something I was really missing from my routine but weirdly couldn’t find the time to do before. I think that, too, is contributing to an all-round lovelier sense of wellbeing and just general calmness.
In a nutshell, self-care is the little things that make you happy. Listening to Avril Lavigne and singing your heart out? Check. Enjoying an obnoxiously bright pink bath bomb on a Monday afternoon? Too right. Taking a three hour lunch to catch up and cackle with a friend? Hell yes. It’s all so worth it.
Tell me: what are the things that make you happy? I’m open to more self-care. Especially now I know exactly what it means.