What Is Self-Care, Really? (Spoiler: It's Not a Bubble Bath and Glass of Wine)

Alli Kelly

When we say “self-care” you probably picture a candle-lit room with soft music playing in the background. A glass of wine and your favorite dessert. And while social media has glorified these “self–care rituals”, it’s actually damaging to view taking care of yourself in these ways. Here’s why:

Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health”. Improving health. Not indulging, binging, or avoiding your responsibilities and further heightening your stress and anxiety levels. Self-care looks different to everyone, but the unifying theory within this practice is achieving physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It takes a conscious effort to improve your health. And sometimes that means sacrificing your comfort in order to truly take care of yourself.

Self-care is writing down your goals and making a financial plan for how to achieve them. Not giving in to your urges, but rather taking a pause and thinking rationally about what will actually help you. The instant gratification of a new purse may give you a quick dopamine hit, but working towards a long-term goal and consciously planning for it will lead to a more fulfilling life. 

Self-care is making the hard decision of creating boundaries between yourself and those around you. Boundaries do not equal metaphorical “walls” and although they can have some not-so-fun impacts on existing relationships, it doesn’t always have to be that way. Creating boundaries not only promotes self-respect but also helps others understand your limits and expectations. It isn’t easy, but in the long run, the hard work of being vocal with people about the way they treat you will only lead to healthier relationships. 

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Social media has poisoned the mainstream subconscious with copout tactics for improving health. A culture has been created in which we allow ourselves and others to exist in a society of fraudulently enlighted people. This not only harms those participating, but it also harms those truly looking for help and ways to improve their lives.

Self-care is understanding that self-diagnosing on TikTok is not actually solving your problems. Taking advice from someone on social without having a two-way conversation could be really damaging; they don’t know you, your experiences, or how you view the world. Instead, it’s important to take time out of your busy schedule and see a licensed therapist to work through your issues. It isn’t necessarily comfortable to sit in front of strangers and be your most vulnerable self, but it’s that inner work that will actually free you from any past traumas.

True self-care is not about indulging in escapist rituals that promote avoiding uncomfortable feelings and negative emotions. True self-care is about sacrifice. It’s about making tough decisions on a consistent basis that nurture the lives we want to live. Because living your dream takes real effort, not a bubble bath.

Read more: Stop Scrolling - It's Time To Talk About Your Wellbeing!

Alli Kelly

"Feminism is for everyone. We all need to take an active part in deconstructing the way the patriarchy has shaped us as women. Get educated, get out there, and make a difference for yourself and your sisters."
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