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A spotlight on self-care, done the right way

Self-care is pretty much the buzzword of the millennial generation. One might argue that the biggest industries of our time are ones that centre around this concept, such as yoga studios, wellness retreats, spas, and health food chains. The people have spoken, and it’s no to McDonalds and yes to kale.

But as with any concept that has been transformed into a type of mania, there always comes a time when things begin to get a little warped. People see the headlines and think they know the message. Or they see what others are doing on Instagram and follow suit. I mean, if a Kardashian tells their followers to drink a shake for a thin waist and big bountiful booty, chances are, they’ll do it.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be sold to. Just in a more subtle way than in the past. It’s the era of the influencer, and you’re it.

The true concept of self-care

But what does this have to do with self-care? Well, if you see others living a certain way, you start to tell yourself that you deserve that too, that buying a handbag or getting those lip injections is what you’re owed. After all – what’s the difference between you and the people you see online? Not much, but clearly the rest of the world is doing better than you if they have these things and you don’t. They must be taking better care of themselves. Right?

Well of course not. Here’s the definition of self care:

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Let’s face it – we’re pretty much always stressed. But instead of showing up for ourselves like a nurturing mother or guiding father (our first carers on this earth) we jump to the immediate fixes.

Tough day? Cheeseburger will fix that. Feeling sad? Glass of wine, please. Fight with your boyfriend? Pretty sure going on a bender until 5 am will work.

Sound familiar?

I’m not saying you should never eat a cheeseburger again. I love cheeseburgers. Highly recommend. What I am saying is that we need to nurture ourselves from a place of long term kindness, rather than immediate satiation, order to turn our lives into something we’re proud of.

Long term kindness

You deserve to be well. You deserve to have money in your savings account. You deserve to have a good night’s sleep. You deserve to live in a clean home. If you think about the things you do in the name of self-care – what do they lead to?

Here is a list of some things we call self-care, which doesn’t lead to good things (usually):

  • Eating consistently bad foods, especially to reward or comfort yourself
  • Same as above but with alcohol
  • Binge watching TV
  • Buying unnecessary possessions that you can’t afford
  • Committing to engagements that lead to a lack of life balance

Sound familiar? Of course, everyone needs a big ol’ pizza and Netflix binge here and there – we’re human after all, the trick is to make sure you’re not choosing it repeatedly over healthier options that lead to actual feelings of health and wellbeing.

The most important thing in your quest for self care is to listen to your mind and body, so as to serve yourself well. The most important influencer in your world is you.

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