Self-care isn’t just about juice cleanses and bubble baths
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
I’ve got a problem with self-care. Well, not really with the concept, but with how people go about their “self-care” routines. Nights spent at home applying face masks have become the iconic representation of what many now think of as self-care. The “girls” or “boys” night is the social reset button, where one night out with your ride-or-dies is equated to some type of therapy. Weekend hikes are “an escape.” To me, it seems many people conflate indulgence with some necessary steps towards self-preservation.
A lot of what people think about as self-care is only available to a certain small percentage of the population. Wellness clinics, some of the most recognizable programs in healthy living movements, are primarily marketed to upper middle-class consumers. Think about it—who else in society has enough disposable income to invest in this natural, organic remedy or that yoga retreat? Who else in society can invest so much in just themselves? It’s not someone who has to work two+ jobs just to survive in this city. People like that—people like myself—don’t have the resources to focus on what might be considered the best treatments for physical and mental health.
Self-care is about a lot more than just some pampering; self-care is also very much about mindfulness. Being mindful can be respecting one’s boundaries, it can be acknowledging and protecting the meaningful relationships in your life, or it can be as simple as recognizing what time of the day you are most productive. While that doesn’t necessarily require monetary investment, that does require attentiveness and awareness.
Yes, I would argue that a little bit of self-centred T.L.C. can be a good thing; We do sometimes need to be reminded to treat ourselves every once in a while. However, I think that because so much of the way we talk about self-care revolves around things we buy into—the beauty products, the foods, and the experiences—we forget to pay attention to the things that might actually bring us relief and comfort. We focus on the wrong solutions because we’re told that’s what will make us feel better, and we’re surprised when we don’t. Every person has different needs and wants, so, despite everything that the wellness industry might attempt to market, there’s no one-way road to wellbeing.