What is self care? Is it different to self love? How do you practice it?
All of the above and more were answered beautifully at a recent Lush Life panel discussion on self care, hosted by Grace Victory. The YouTuber/author/general bad ass was accompanied by youth worker/motivational speaker Tanya Compas, fellow YouTuber/ally to the marginalised Lucy Moon and body positive life coach/activist Michelle Elman. Now, I had been wildly excited about this, but let me tell you, I had no idea just how inspiring it would be.
I spent the evening listening to these four women talk about #SelfCare culture, breaking it down beyond all the Instagram photos of face masks and #treatyoself, and getting to the cold hard truth of it all.
One thing that has really stuck with me is Tanya Compas’ simple, yet effective point of opening your curtains in the morning. This might be habit to some, but for me, too many days go by where the blind in my bedroom is never lifted. Never underestimate the power of natural light. Feeling a little restless this morning I opened my blind, and no word of a lie, within minutes I felt fresh and ready for the day. I got up, put on an audiobook and went on my way to brush my teeth, gave the bathroom a little clean, grabbed a glass of water and sat down to write this blog.
As Grace says, “self care is not always pretty, sometimes it is really mundane”, and I could not agree more. The steps we take aren’t always glamorous, but it is ultimately about being aware of the necessity of them for our own benefit. All the things I listed above aren’t exactly exciting, or pampering, but they helped me get to something I really enjoy doing but have neglected somewhat recently. My blog is something I adore, yet has been ignored almost entirely for the last few months, save for a few links to music reviews. Today however is different. I feel motivated, and I didn’t have to do anything totally crazy to get here. Hell, I just bloomin’ opened my curtains!
“You don’t have to have a break down to take a break” – Michelle Elman
What about the difference between self care and self love? Michelle puts it simply; self love is the mentality, self care is the behaviour. The entire panel agreed that you can’t have one without the other, with Tanya pointing out that if you forget one, the other can pick it up. As Lucy says, self care is a journey, and for Grace, she had to practice self care to find self love. The two are most certainly intertwined and I have certainly taken this away with me to keep my mood in tip top shape.
“Self care is a journey” – Lucy Moon
Another strong message that came from this night, possibly the strongest of them all in fact, was from Grace; self care is self defined. There are no rules to self care, no right or wrong, just an awareness of what makes you happy. It is about looking after number one, and this could change all the time. There aren’t even any rules for yourself. I think scheduling in time for self care is important, but personally, I am leaving it open to decide what constitutes as self care at that given time. Maybe I want to spend my evening discovering new music, but then maybe I want to go out that night instead. Who knows. Only I do and only when that time comes around. This is self care and while it is to do with setting boundaries, I think it is also important to be flexible with them. No one is telling you to sit at home because you put that time aside. You scheduled that time for yourself. If in that moment, you are in need of going out and seeing friends, then that is self care. There is this idea that self care is spending time to yourself, but I prefer to think of it as looking after yourself and that does not have to be independent.
“Listen to yourself, what do you need this day?” – Grace Victory
Let’s talk about empowerment. We all know that making decisions for ourselves is empowering and again, with self care being self defined, Tanya reminds us that not one size fits all. “It is allowing yourself to explore what [self care] means to you”. While at this event, I heard a lot about different methods of self care, and it was so empowering to hear things that I agreed with, but also to recognise that what is good for one, might not be the same for the other. Take Grace with her inability to take an hour out of her busy schedule for cooking, against Lucy’s point that for her, cooking is a segmented bit of her life, away from her phone. To see these ladies talk about their different methods and respect them, highlighted the fact that self care comes from within. Sure, you can take a leaf out of your mate’s book, but the power comes from the awareness that you are doing this for you, and if it’s not right, you try something else.
“Only you now how to treat yourself” – Tanya Compas
On the topic of phones, where does social media lie in the realms of self care? I have an unhealthy addiction to my phone, observing other people’s life through rose tinted glasses. These online lives are no comparison to reality. Instagram is always available, but is it always interactive? The difference between seeing photos of #SelfCare and discussing it with others is phenomenal. This is why I am going to make an effort to spend less time mindlessly scrolling on social media. Not a digital detox exactly, but making time for other things; reading, writing, learning. Maybe go offline while I use Duolingo or listen to my podcasts. If I am online, maybe I interact more. Phones aren’t the enemy after all. We just have to take life into our own hands and discover how to care of ourselves. Figure it out alone, or talk to your friends, just make sure to take a step back and learn for yourself. Take care.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your tips for self care over at Twitter!