Words by Enya Sullivan
Art By Vera Rajamaa
Self-care is a word that’s becoming more and more common in our vocabulary, especially on social media. We’re flooded with images of healthy food, bath bombs, and beauty rituals captioned with the words ‘self-care’ and ‘love yourself’. I don’t doubt that these small rituals ought to be celebrated and indulged, but after a week of (over-priced) facemasks, homemade meals and two bike ride I was left wondering why I wasted all that time and money on myself- I still felt just as awful as before.
Self-care is extremely tied up with the concept of loving oneself. One of the biggest difficulties about it self-care is that it often entails doing something very big and initially painful, without immediate positive results. To really love yourself you have to look at things around you that are stopping you from living the best life. It may be that you have to stop seeing a partner or a friend you have an intense relationship with, to start sorting out the first counselling or doctor’s appointment, applying for extensions, telling your boss you are too sad to work, or telling someone something very personal. Selfcare is about learning to no lean on other people or things in an unhealthy, dependent manner.
This is no means easy and at first it can seem like the complete opposite to self-love. You have to remember that the realisation and the first few actions are always the hardest, but it slowly gets better. While doing these things it is important to make sure you have people around, a support network, that you can explain how you’re feeling and that can support you through that. Asking a friend to help you sort your room cluttered with pizza boxes can feel humiliating at first, but you need to remind yourself that they will understand and it will help get things back into the swing, you will feel lighter after.
The same goes for spewing your guts out to the counsellor and your family and realising that they won’t think of you of some strange alien being. Sure, they may not always give the most perfect advice but they will show ways of caring. Another good thing to do is to find those traits you admire in other people around you. Ask them for suggestions, from how to deal with anxiety in the mornings, to their most therapeutic book to read. This stable network will help you determine good ways to take care of yourself.
Self-care also requires acceptance, we are all fallible. It’s awfully slow and painful getting to a point of self-love, there will be ups and downs and there isn’t a quick fix (which can be frustrating if you’re like me and you try to force things at one hundred miles per hour). You need to remind yourself that the things you have already done (no matter how small) deserve a tonne of recognition, if you keep going you’ll do even better. It’s also important to remember to not beat yourself up when things do not work. Don’t waste your energy being angry that you overslept, got takeaway (even when you really can’t afford it), or didn’t shower etc. Enjoy that facemask but don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t solved everything. All the little steps eventually add up.