Self Care has become a big 'buzzword' in the past few years, especially since 2020 when so many of us became more self aware of how important it can be in maintaining our overall wellbeing. However, the trouble with something wellbeing related becoming a 'trend' is that it often gets twisted to fit marketing and as a consequence of this we can feel like we are falling short of meeting the standards set out for us by media and advertising.
The more I talk about self care online, the more I hear statements like "I feel like self care has become another thing on my to-do list that I need to tick off"; it feels like self care has become another thing that we need to mould ourselves to fit in order to be 'successful' in life. But self care is a practice that at its core is so personal to each individual - we can't buy or purchase it, it shouldn't feel like a productivity task. Self Care as a practice is about learning to listen to our body and mind and respond to our own needs with meaningful actions, and yes, sometimes that might be treating ourselves to a spa day, hot yoga session or luxurious face mask, but it doesn't have to be.
If you've felt like your self care routine is falling short or not really supporting your wellbeing (and rather just becoming another thing to stress about) then use this list to help you reflect on what your current barriers might be and begin to plan how you can add more mindfulness back into the actions you take to be kind to your needs.
1. What season are you in?
the type of self care you and your body need is going to change slightly from season to season, often because of the weather; in the summer self care often comes more naturally because we're getting outside and have more opportunities to socialise and stimulate our minds. In the winter the weather can become a barrier to this and we may need to adapt; so take some time to reflect on how your current season (and it's weather or daylight hours) may be stopping you from getting outside, socialising or planning interesting activities for yourself.
2. What boundaries have you created for yourself?
boundaries are self care, and therefore a lack of boundaries becomes a barrier for self care, especially in relation to 'time'. If a lack of free time is a current barrier for you making more time to do the things that help you feel good, then consider creating some boundaries around this time. Block out your calendar, communicate clearly with others (aka - say no to things that are going to take away from this time) and hold yourself accountable to using this time you've carved out to do something that feels good.
3. How are you filling up your cup?
some times self care activities are a way for us to release energy and tension, like exercise, social activities or travel. Other times it needs to be restorative activities that help you replenish your energy levels. If a lack of energy is blocking your self care practice consider what low energy, restorative activities you could do instead.
4. Are you allowing time for rest?
rest and sleep are self care! Again, if your energy levels are a barrier to you doing other, high energy self care activities that bring you joy, then reflect on if you are giving your body enough time to rest and sleep and if not, what you can do to improve your rest and sleep routines.
5. Are you allowing yourself to try new things?
sometimes we feel like self care needs to be on a schedule, a select set of activities that we 'need' to do in order to tick off that self care box on the to-do list each week. But remember: self care is a practice that is personal to you, it's about responding to your needs which will naturally change over time. Don't be afraid to try new things; if something isn't working - switch it up, if it doesn't bring you joy - try something else.
6. Are you putting too much focus on the cost?
Self care doesn't need to be bought or purchased; of course, sometimes we buy products or services that support our self care needs but this doesn't have to be a constant. If budget feels like a barrier to self care, consider what inexpensive things you can do for your well being - I've got 14 ideas in this post to help you get started!
7. Are you playing the comparison game?
with self care routines trending on social media it can be easy to feel like you need to do 'more' in order to really be doing self care. Once again remember that what you need will be personal to you, and therefore can not be compared to what some else is doing for self care on social media. Try checking in with yourself, ask yourself what would feel good today and challenge yourself to find that answer without looking for ideas from others. It's great to seek out inspiration but a meaningful self care practice really begins when we can respond to our own needs.