The main concept of self-care is fairly uncomplicated. Bubble baths, face masks and sipping on detox tea while reading, the execution is easy. Or at least that’s what most people think.
However, the core of self-care, real self-care, is something way more profound and complex.
Self-care consists of two basic concepts – taking care of your body and taking care of your mind. Both of a great importance. The purpose of a good self-care system is learning to manage your stress levels. Experts at Mayo Clinic state that ‘taking the path less traveled by exploring your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships and enhanced stress management skills.’
Self-care, though, takes practice. It takes learning. You don’t just wake up one day and immediately become a professional at it. They don’t teach it in schools, they don’t offer a university degree on it.
In our constantly-developing reality, we are so busy socialising, networking, making connections with people on and offline that we’re starting to put the most important relationship we will ever have aside – the one with ourselves. We get so consumed in the whirlwind of social media that we lose the connection with our inside voice.
Now, be honest, what is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you look outside at the beautiful trees that take years to grow just so we can have enough oxygen, do you go feel the wind caress your face, do you think of how blessed you are just to see everything around you? Or do you look at your phone? All the people you follow, and what has been going around in the world while you were sleeping. When did that become more important than listening to our inner voice and appreciating everything we have? Don’t get me wrong – I do all these things too. All I’m saying is that we should be more aware of our needs and surroundings first thing in the morning, so that the noise of the outside world does not interfere with our inner peace.
But what exactly is self-care, both on a physical and mental level?
There are a lot of easy ways to develop self-care habits that your mind and body will be thankful for. For example, every morning or night you can start making gratitude lists. What are you grateful for today? Your loved ones? A thoughtful gesture from a friend? That your tutor’s train was delayed and missed that one boring lecture? Write that down. Make a list of people you love. And a bit of an obvious one – drink more water. I bet everyone puts that in their New Year’s resolutions list, but it’s one of those clichés that are true. It really is that good for you. Just put a water bottle in every room and carry one with you at all times – that will make it easier to form as a habit. Celebrate small achievements – you walked 10.000 steps today or you helped a person on the streets – great! Celebrate it!
Essential oils are another easy way to start practicing self-care. You can use them in a variety of different ways – facial steams, inhaling, massages, in baths or diffusers. According to a book called ‘Aromatic Intelligence’, essential oils have a powerful effect against a broad range of bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens. Inhaling bergamot essential oil induces positive feelings just after 15 minutes, according to a study done in the Phytotherapy Journal, while lavender essential oil acts on our central nervous system, inhibiting a protein that terminates the action of serotonin.
Self-care is also highly linked to our feelings and emotions. It’s forgiving yourself when you fail and picking yourself up, breaking unhealthy mental habits such as only seeing the negative sides of a situation, as well as forming new ones that will make your mind and body healthy. Self-care is reaching to your loved ones when you feel alone and being thankful for all you have, but it’s also learning to say no when you need to be by yourself.
Another important way of taking care of your mental wellbeing is having a digital detox. Logout of all your social media for a couple of days and you will discover how much more time you have to cultivate your passions, and how freeing it is to not compare yourself to other people.
For when you come back (because you will), here are some great Instagram accounts you should follow:
- @cleowade – modern day poet who serves a daily dose of inspiration.
- @thechampagnediet – author of ‘GIRL CODE’ who also has her own podcast.
- @carrierad – the self-care queen (for more on the topic you can visit her YouTube channel ‘Carrie Rad’).
- @bodyposipanda – body positivity expert and author of ‘Body Positive Power’.
- @collegenutritionist – nutritionist who focuses on sharing healthy, affordable and easy meals.
The benefits of having a good mental and physical routine are undeniable. Mastering the art of self-care and learning the science behind it’s not easy, but it’s essential to the hustle and bustle of the 21 century. It’s never too late to start.
By Monika Rumenova