In the next instalment of our self-care series, writer Bea Crawford discusses how we can bring self-care back to basics.
What does self-care mean to you? The phrase may conjure up images of bubble baths, face masks, Yoga With Adriene videos and elaborate yoghurt bowls for breakfast. However, at times when you most need self-care, such acts may begin to seem a bit pointless and excessive. At the end of the day, what help is a facial when you can barely get out of bed in the morning? In fact, over the past year I’ve found that the best form of self-care for me was doing nothing at all.
Over the years, I’ve definitely succumbed to the more pressurised side of the self-care world, where there’s only one “proper” way to take care of your own wellbeing. I felt that “self-care” meant I had to shape my day around perfect, aesthetically pleasing morning routines, expensive frothy coffees, and fulfilling Saturday morning hikes. But, in the end, I realised this was bringing a lot more stress into my life than it was soothing it. And that was when I had my eureka moment: maybe the self-care that works best for me was just taking that pressure out of the equation completely.
A chronic overachiever since primary school, it’s still somewhat of a struggle for me to let myself do nothing. There’s an inherent guilt to abandoning productivity for even a second. But, once I realised I was making even the act of self-care into some sort of competition, I decided I had to try to take that pressure off my shoulders. Instead of planning elaborate ‘me days”, I’ve been trying to catch the moments I’ve been feeling a bit low or overwhelmed, and carve out half an hour to just do nothing. At most, maybe a walk around the park with my headphones, even just finding a bench to sit on and people-watch. There’s no pressure to spend my time productively or to even think too deeply about anything; I just try to let myself be for a few moments. Yes, these may seem like extremely simple things, but for me, these have always felt like wasting precious time. Now, if giving myself half an hour to just turn my brain off helps me to feel a bit more human, that’s enough for me.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to take care of myself. But I believe that’s where the fun lies: in taking the time to get to know yourself, rather than letting other people dictate how you should be spending your “me time”. Self-care is different for everyone; above all, I think it’s important not to get sucked into what you think self-care should be. Don’t pay attention to the people who guilt you into spending all of your money on the newest skincare trends — after all, the answer always lies within. Do some soul-searching, find what soothes your soul, and the rest will certainly follow.