How I’m Redefining What Self-Care Means to Me

By India Jones

For someone with a trailing record of self-care “acts,” I might have a lot of nerve. There isn’t a self-care ritual I have not attempted, only to add it to my ever-growing fail list. Weekly bubble baths end in being squished in a small bathtub to only hear your name being yelled as soon as you close your eyes. Daily yoga results in as never-ending trail of ‘maybe tomorrow’ that I can give myself. Blog post after post, inspiring and jealousy including Instagram picture after another, and it all falls the same. I slowly give up the act and go back to my usual anxious and sleep deprived self.  

Maybe there are those out there that can incorporate self-care as easily as they eat breakfast in the morning.  Perhaps they actually do make time to eat breakfast in the morning. The point is, some have found something that works for them. The problem, and I believe many have this problem, is that I have not. I scroll mindlessly through Instagram and find that one picture that makes me believe that this person, someone I may have never met, is taking care of themselves. If I can just emulate whatever it is that this stranger is doing, say laying on a beach with a facemask, posing in a difficult yoga pose, or sipping wine in a beautifully large bathtub, that I will become just as relaxed and carefree as they seem to be. I’ve found myself with the habit of adopting what self-care means to other people, and criticizing myself for not making it work.  

Not sticking to a particular diet, exercise, or skin care routine convinces me that there must something wrong with me, and not that this something just might not work for what I need. The constant cycle of inspiration from other people and disappointment in myself only does the opposite of what self-care is meant for in the first place. The other problem with this is that it takes away all of the work out of getting to know yourself, and what you enjoy.  

I’ve resolved to fix this issue within myself, and encourage anyone to share this process with me. I’m learning to do one simple thing, and then ask myself two simple questions. I stop what I am doing, take one deep breath and then ask myself: 

  1. What do I need in this moment? 
  2. Is this something I enjoy?

This may sound simple, but you would not believe how difficult it can be. I constantly subject myself to things I do not want to do in the name of self-care. I personally do not enjoy yoga and I do not like long baths, so why do it? I’ve also learned that I like quick and effective skin care routines, so why torture myself with something more intricate while I’m dying to get it over with? Sometimes, things do not serve you, but sometimes that is okay.  

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We have to learn to stop beating ourselves up about not being like the next person. That perfectly posed picture of a woman cross legged with her eyes closed and facing the sunset is not the only way to meditate.  Holding a scorpion pose in a dimly lit yoga class is not the only way you can reunite with your breath. Enjoy and take comfort in knowing you are the only person who gets to decide what works for you. 

About India:  

India is from Central Virginia and spends her time juggling between chasing after her toddler, cuddling with her fluffy puppy, and curling up with a good book. Her guilty pleasures include scaring herself watching true crime documentaries and listening to serial killer podcasts. She loves Stephen King, and is a horror and thriller genre nerd.  

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