The Psychology of self-care - What, Why & how

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Self-care has become a buzzword but what does it actually mean?

Pinterest is filled with fancy info-graphics on how you can improve your self-care. Instagram is full of wellness "professionals" promising that if you sign up to their newsletter your well-being will be somewhat magically improved. Although it is true that neglecting self-care will potentially lead to burnout and fatigue it is not as simple as "putting on a face mask & relaxing".

self-care is anything but a one-time act. It is a mindset and a process.

The term "self-care" was pioneered by medical and mental health professionals who prescribed healthy lifestyle changes and stress management behaviours. Unfortunately, it's since become mainstream and profitable for advertisers to perpetuate the fantasy that self-care can be easy and can be achieved simply. 

Social media tells me that hot yoga and matcha lattes will be the answer to my life stresses. But, really, self-care is supposed to be focused on you as a whole. This means focusing on the mind, body, spirit and soul, focusing your attention on your needs.

It's the podcast I play, it's the healthy meal I make with classical music playing in the background. It's the message I send to a friend, just to say hello and catch up. It's the request for help I make without feeling like a burden or ashamed because I am acknowledging my basic human rights and needs for support. 

Self-care is not purchasing that expensive handbag saying to myself "go on you need it", it is not vegging out on the sofa all day with ice-cream and beer that is self-indulgence. 

I am learning that self-care can be the tiniest of decisions. For instance, it can be setting boundaries in an unhealthy relationship. It can be making a choice to rise with the sun and begin the day with meditation. It can be writing self-reflection in a journal, it can be whispering to yourself a mantra you're stressed. It's learning to self-soothe calming any physical or emotional stresses without being co-dependent. 

Self-care can be Letting go of expectations, unrealistic goals and standards that we set for ourselves and others. 

When I am taking care of myself intentionally, I am not a partner, I am not a student or a parent. I am just me. Focusing solely on myself and my well-being. I now realise that I can not be any of these roles mentioned above if I am not there for me.

So, let's just start with the simple decision on improving our perception of self-care. Understand we are vulnerable, we are worthy and we matter. Our mental health matters, our sanity matters.