Once shrouded in the privacy of the therapy room, self-care has now become a trite, overused and confusing buzzword. The consumer wellness industry capitalised the term to market products like candles and bubblebath which supposedly had powers that were more than skin-deep. We started associating self-care with expensive beauty products, rather than what it originated as; a free, effective inner-resource we can all employ for restoration and rejuvination.
Self-care is not a one-size-fits-all solution disguised as a vitamin spray, it's not that insanely priced facial serum and it's not an extra portion of chocolate cake either.
So, then what is self-care? The answer is entirely unique to you, because real, effective self-care begins with listening to your inner needs, in the moment. it's about learning to listen to yourself and be in tune with your body. It's noticing if your shoulders are holding a lot of tension and recognising you've had a stressful week, then considering what would help you let go of that.
The following reflections can help you to work out what would be an effective self-care activity for you. You might come back to the same ones time and time again, or they might be different each time - remember, you're simply giving yourself what you need to regain energy and capacity in that moment.
You don't have to work through all of these prescriptively, but the premise is noticing how you're feeling and what you need to restore yourself and regain your capacity. So, for a person who feels renewed and re-energised by being in water, a bubble bath might actually be really effective self-care. Equally, if lighting a scented candle helps you feel cosy, comforted and warm on a cold winter's night; then this would again be effective self-care. The difference from the wellness cliche's above are that the intention and reason is the key to your replenishment; not a product or a behaviour on it's own. Finding effective self-care does not come from outsourcing the 'power' of something external; it comes from the internal power we create when we meet our own needs.