Over the last few years, the idea of self care has become more prominent, and that has been a major positive. Yoga, lighting candles, and having a bath are all marketed as the perfect self-care routine, the ideal Sunday, and revolutionary for making changes in your life. But when you pose the question: ‘is this self care or as a result of self care?’ it opens up a whole new conversation.
These are things that you’re able to do because you have time, so I know in my experience, they get done once every few months, I call it self care and then go on with my life, not actually doing self care. Because what I actually need is time. I tend to stumble across a spare Sunday evening, decide that I need a face mask and some yoga and call it a day, thinking I’ve just changed my life. When in reality I have not. However, giving myself time is not an attractive, Instagram worthy process. But that’s what I need.
Changing the way we think about self care can help us to actually perform self care. Taking it from investing in a product to investing in ourselves, will transform the way we practise self care. Because self care should be ugly. So what does this actually mean?
Self care in its ugliest form is about valuing yourself. It’s about forming a foundation in which candles, baths, and yoga will actually bring you benefits, because what you’ve actually given yourself, as part of that foundation, is time. Self care is an investment in yourself giving you the ability to choose. Because choosing you can sometimes feel like a privilege, but in reality, it’s a necessity. It allows you to grow and develop, and more importantly, be a better person, not just for yourself, but your friends, family, and everyone around you. That’s why self care isn’t selfish. Because it makes us better for others as well as ourselves. However, it does need you to choose yourself first.
Every time you say no to adding something else to your plate you’re investing in yourself. You’re choosing to say, ‘I value my time and what I can do with it, therefore I cannot take on another task. I will not be able do these tasks that I already have to a good enough standard if I take on something else’. This makes the quality of what you choose to do better. That quality could look like, being able to spend more meaningful time with your partner or your kids because you’re not having to work into the evening. The first choice directly benefited you, but the results, benefit everybody. The saying ‘no’ in the first place is the ugly self care, but the rewards of that don’t have to be ugly. Self care doesn’t have to be about you. But it has to start with you.
When you break up with a toxic partner/ friend/ situation, you’re choosing to value yourself by removing yourself from that situation. You’re seeing your worth. It’s you saying, ‘I’m going to give myself better because I deserve better’. Leaving the situation is the ugly part, that’s hard. But choosing your mental health, happiness, and your freedom is worth it.
When you choose to eat a nourishing meal, you’re saying, ‘I value myself to feed my body what it needs to function’. That’s self care. You’re investing in yourself to take care of what you need. When you make this investment in yourself, you’re giving yourself the prospect of a healthy life. That means being able to run around with your kids or your nieces and nephews in the future or just being able to do the things you love for longer.
As you can see these are not pretty things. They’re not attractive and they don’t feel like #SelfCare belongs alongside of it. But that’s okay. Because self care is ugly. When we recognise our value and choose to continuously invest in ourselves, we choose not only our current self, but our future self as well. The trickiest part of this kind of self care is that you have to keep doing it. You have to continuously show up for yourself. You won’t get it perfect every time and that’s alright. As long as you keep showing up for yourself and trying to make positive changes for you and those that you love, that’s self care. It can create beautiful things. Just because the self care is ugly, doesn’t mean the outcomes of it are not beautiful.
Self care is ugly, pass it on.
This is the first article in my 'Self Care Is Ugly' series.