Are you overwhelmed by self-care advice coming at you from all directions? Does the following inner monologue sound like how you start your day?:
All right, up and at ‘em! Now I need to drink lemon water. Wait, do I dry brush first? When do I exfoliate and apply moisturizer and sunblock? Oh, and I need to set aside 15 minutes to meditate. Do I do that in bed? Or is it stretching that I do in bed? When do I do my journal writing—in between lemon water and meditation? Before oil pulling? Or after yoga? Geesh, this self-care thing is exhausting! I think I’ll go back to bed.
These days, every celebrity, wellness coach, and casual blogger is telling you how to take care of yourself. It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to become a self-care master, so always remember this: there’s so much advice out there that no one—not even the self-care queen herself Gwyneth Paltrow—is actually doing all of these things all of the time. If we heeded all the advice we read, it would literally take all day. So, we have got to lighten up on ourselves. By putting pressure on ourselves to take time for all these self-care activities, we may end up being more stressed and anxious than we started!
So what exactly is self-care? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. That’s a pretty broad definition—one that too often gets dissected and misinterpreted by well-intended articles, blogs, and good ol’ peer pressure.
If you love the idea of having a list of 50 self-care items to do every day and it makes you as happy as a puppy in a dog food factory, then congratulations, you Type-A go-getter! More power to you. However, most of us will be happier once we give our idea of self-care perfection a serious reality check.
The point is, we all have things that we need and only we can know when we need those things. If meditation is your thing, then ommm to you. If you like to crank up the jams and dance your butt off, then dance away. Everything else we hear and read are just suggestions, not requirements. Your skin won’t molt off if you don’t dry brush, and you for sure won’t raise your toxin count if you don’t drink lemon water. And does anyone really do oil pulling? No matter what advice you hear, you just do YOU.
Now, I’m not saying that self-care isn’t essential. As I write this I’m still feeling the effects of the amazing massage I had earlier today because I really needed a massage. Massages leave me calm and clear-headed and take care of some of the physical imbalances caused by stress. But even though I made time for a massage, I also skipped my yoga practice and forgot to make my green smoothie this morning. And I’m not going to beat myself up about it.
So just do whatever makes you feel good, or follow the advice of one or two self-care heroes if that works for you. But if you don’t get around to that Tai Chi class or facial mask or juice detox, please don’t feel bad about it. Accept that true self-care isn’t about being perfect. You’ve got this!