Re-Defining Self Care

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Re-Defining Self Care: Evolution of Self Care Tips

Re-evaluating what self care means in 2021 and exploring different self care tips by which we can help ourselves to flourish in a post-pandemic world.

self care tips
Image by SHVETS production

‘Self-care’ is an umbrella term for a range of things we do to look after ourselves. Wikipedia calls it health management but when comparing what self-care has become, to what it’s defined as, there are some pretty stark differences. Over the years, and with the rise of social media and blogging, self-care has moved away from its textbook definition and more towards a disguised commercialised activity.

Nowadays, slogans like ‘treat yo self’ go hand in hand with the performance of self-care, it’s less about health and mindfulness and more about overindulgence, which shifts self-care from being a universally subjective activity to being an exclusive and less accessible one. 

I look to JustGirlyThings for triggering this. Those silly little quotes that acted as a to-do list, plastered all over Tumblr and Instagram, urging my pre-teen self to use Victoria Secret body spray and have a Hollister-only wardrobe, treating myself to this excessive (for a 13 year old girl) lifestyle, all in the name of self-care.

In a way, these digital post-it notes were not only reminders, but instructions on how to perform self-care and how to look as though I’m reaping the mental and physical benefits of using Lush bath bombs and Simple face masks, when in fact, they were a minimal and temporary fix. 

Nowadays, TikTok is the one giving out all of the self care information. The selfcare hashtag has over 12 billion views and users are urged by the platform to “show how you’re taking care of yourself.”

If you scroll through you can find a range of techniques that can help you to ‘nourish to flourish’, as TikTok recommends; waking up with the sun, bubble baths and an established skincare routine, it was these little activities that were bombarding our feeds at the start of the lockdown back in March 2020.

Image by Madison Inouye

Into 2021, self care is often seen hand in hand with spiritualism and introspection. Manifestation, the use of crystals and journaling has become increasingly popular. Shadow work, for example, involves using journal prompts to analyse the deeper sides of ourselves to achieve a ‘higher self’ and has over 314 million views on TikTok.

Having tried shadow work, manifestation and journaling myself I admit it takes guts to analyse parts of yourself that you’ve been avoiding but unless you are fully committed to the activity, you may find that it doesn’t help as much as the self-care gurus on TikTok claim it should.

On my personal quest to practice self-care, I found that self care is subjective. What works for you might not work for me and vice versa. It can be hard when you have people on all platforms and from all angles telling you that their method is the one and only way, but once you change your perspective of these and acknowledge them as advice rather than instructions, it can be a lot easier to filter out what works for you and what doesn’t. 

For me, I found that ‘nothing’ days and organising my week really helped. I can get really busy with university and my part time job, but assigning days where I can do absolutely nothing can really help me to take a break and then get back to work feeling fresh instead of feeling burnt out. I also love to organise my week with a planner, similar to journaling but less structured and I can update it whenever I want since it’s undated. I’ve found that my productivity has really increased and I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I used to because I can keep track of what I’m working on. 

Don’t get me wrong, a little indulgence is definitely necessary sometimes and can be a fun way to fill time, but my only advice would be to try not to get too hooked on the idea of it being ‘self-care’ and remember to practice the things that actually benefit you in the long run, reconnect with yourself, find your passions, dedicate time to doing the things that help you contribute to being the best version of yourself.