Simplifying self-care

Be your own saviour minus the stress

31 Oct 2019 / 13:58 H.

SO, you have made a list of self-care rituals to follow on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, for the good of your mind, body and soul. It goes something like this: daily meditation, exercise, green juice and some time carved out to feel your feelings, weekly fun night with friends and yoga class, weekend skin and hair pampering and for cleansing your space, monthly manicure, pedicure and facial. Seems doable, right? Sure, until you try to apply it to real life.

As you will find, there’ll be days when there is just no time for juicing or to even go and buy one. Late nights at work necessitate that you sleep in when you are supposed to work out. Cleansing your space on the weekend ends up spent on the couch binging on Netflix the whole day because you’re just so tired.

Meanwhile, every time you fail to follow through on something on the list, you feel a tinge of guilt. And if you didn’t know you were feeling bad about yourself before, the self-hate is overwhelming as you scroll through your friends regular #selfcare Instagram posts. You push yourself to do everything on the list, but its accompanied by anxiety. Just how did self-care turn into a chore and worse, become self-harm?

Self-care originated as a medical concept and was espoused by doctors to patients in the form of ways to exercise healthy habits to help them manage their health condition. Today, self-care is defined as the act of taking care of one’s own wellbeing, be it physical, emotional, mental, relational, professional or spiritual.

It is a call to be one’s own saviour. Said to be propagated by millennials, a generation that feels that they’ve seen enough whether it is injustice, careless actions and decisions made by their predecessors, which are affecting the wellbeing of society and the world, and want to take things into their own hands. And one of these ways is to empower themselves to take care of their selves, to help them cope and navigate the times. By leading the revolution online particularly on social media, self-care has grown exponentially in the last few years (it was Apple’s hottest app trend in 2018).

On the downside, it has given rise to the pressure to chronicle self-care rituals on social media especially Instagram, which is rife with picture perfect breakfast bowls, plates of salad at lunchtime and a steady yoga pose accompanied by some sage words.

Known as performative wellness, it seems to be responsible for the pressure people feel to keep up with their self-care routines and ending up doing it not purely for one’s own good but also to look good to the world.

As such, well meaning self-care routines that are meant to help make life better, become a source of stress and anxiety. It’s pretty well-known when something becomes another “thing” to follow through in your to-do list, there are more problems than benefits gained. Also, being rigid about our commitment to self-care without considering that we may not have time some days or simply not be in the mood, which is normal in life is unrealistic.

Writer Fariha Roisin who co-wrote a column on self-care for the blog Hairpin says it best in defining self-care: “True self-care is figuring out what works for you and honouring what your needs are and working within your limitations.” For this, we also need self-awareness. To know how we are feeling and what we need at any time and as Roisin says, our limitations. Sometimes, what you need is a break and there are times, you may need a push. Only you know best.

With the flood of self-care routines and rituals out there, there has been a demand for going back to basics and removing rigid rituals in a bid to reclaim our time and lead a simpler life. The idea is to simplify self care. As a guide, here are some ideas:

▶ Learn to say no: Sometimes all you need is to stay home and go to bed early.

▶ Go for rituals that don’t require too much work: For instance, choose Intuitive Eating instead of a special diet (see our article: Return To Natural Eating Habits on

▶ Choose to do what you enjoy or feel like: This especially works with something you find challenging, for example exercise.

▶ Try small: Something is better than nothing. Take time during the day to recharge.

▶ Simplify routines: Unless you really enjoy your 25-step skin care routine, try skip-care, which allows you to skip certain steps and ditch unnecessary products.


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