Self-Care: What Is It, Do I Need To Be Doing It And Is It Just A Code Word For Having A Wank?

Because everyone’s moving on from wellness, don't ya know?

Self-Care: What Is It, Do I Need To Be Doing It And Is It Just A Code Word For Having A Wank?

by Jazmin Kopotsha |

It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the hastagable words that float around as yet another Instagram-friendly means of proving to the world that you’re looking after yourself. Wellness is cool, mindfulness is trendy and if you’re not looking inwards in a very public way are you even okay, hun?

Given the political shit storm that has messed with everyone’s heads on either side of the pond, it’s not all that surprising that self-care has ridden the same wave to replace wellness as the worthy word of 2017. As the real world gets messier we seem to look further inward. It’s a defence mechanism that is in no way new - remember covering your eyes as a kid in hopes it would make either you or everything else around you disappear? But self-care has very much become ‘A Thing’.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But is it just me, or has its recent popularity meant that the actual definition of self-care has gotten lost in the hype of earning a few likes on that artfully lit bowl of porridge? Or perhaps it goes further than that. I can’t be the only one who’s been struggling to work out what self-care in 2017 really means?

Self-care and wellness

Selfcare1

If Instagram is anything to go by (which duh, it is), there’s a huge crossover between the types of photos that pop up when you search #wellness and #selfcare. And sure, there are way more tagged with wellness than those with self-care, but we’ve been banging on about wellness a lot longer and generally have a grasp of what it involves.

If we had to categorise, though, wellness is usually understood to include things like clean-eating, not smoking, doing fancy yoga while your mate takes a picture etc. Things like grooming and treating yo'self to nice clothes are often put in the self-care category on the other hand, as well as the things we’d associate with wellness, explains Life Coach Liam Collins.

I guess the aim of both of these things (outside of Instagram that is) is to normalise doing things that make you feel good. There is, of course, the argument to be made about just how well the wellness trend actually does that. But the reality is that whether you define it as self-care or wellness, what had become more popular is the process of focussing inward. It's the way that you do it is probably what separates the two buzzwords.

Self-care and mindfulness

That said, Liam stresses that things like drinking a green juice that took you hours to make, or taking a facemask selfie and tagging it #selfcaresunday might have a positive effect on our moods, they aren’t long term solutions. In fact, ‘our minds are at the heart of how we feel about everything in our lives on a much deeper, long lasting level’.

It might feel confusing to through mindfulness into the mix while trying to understand what self-care is but the way Liam puts it, if you're on the hunt for happiness, or feeling 'well' in yourself, you need to have an understanding of the link between the way our bodies affect our minds and our minds affect our bodies in order to achieve self-care.

‘Don’t underestimate the power of your mind and the dramatic way your thought process affects your everyday life and ultimately your happiness', he explains. 'This is mindfulness and it’s a HUGE factor in self-care – the most important factor by a mile’.

Can we even define what self-care is? Is it even A Thing?

If you break it down, self-care pretty much translates to looking after yourself, right? On the surface, Liam agrees. ‘In which case it is literally impossible for it not to be “A Thing” – if it didn’t exist then gyms and grooming products wouldn’t exist’, he explains. So maybe the issue is that by definition, self-care can be really far-reaching because it depends on the person interpreting it.

From Liam's professional perspective as a Life Coach, self-care, wellness and mindfulness all 'represent a desire to be the best version of you that you can be'. So perhaps the point of self-care is to interpret it on your own terms.

So is self-care actually important?

Quite simply, looking after yourself makes it easier to look after other people and go forth and try to right the wrongs in the world. And okay, while it sounds like something your grandma might say on the phone when she tries to convince you *not *to leave the house for work when you're in denial about the stinking cold that's been weighing you down, it's true. It's just a shame that it's taken self-care (and wellness) to become a trend for lots of us to sit up and pay attention to the idea of looking after ourselves as a legitimate, crucial thing to do.

The fact that self-care, wellness and mindfulness have become trendy isn't a negative thing. I see it as showing that we've redeveloped an awareness of ourselves that we'd lost somewhere in between the first smartphone and the launch of Instagram. I just hope that the rise of #selfcare doesn't just mean that we've so far lost sight of how to look after ourselves that we need a new hashtagable word to prompt us to learn how to do it.

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**Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha **

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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