As self-care becomes more popularized on social media, we’re seeing more and more ideas of what self-care means for different people. Pictures of matcha lattes, bubble baths, and candles fill our feeds. But as Kendra’s post highlighted, this consumerist view on self-care may not be completely filling its purpose.
Self-care can be defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” It’s going to look different for each and every one of us – but most important is the common goal of preserving our overall health and well-being. My personal goal of self-care is to do things actively to respect, appreciate and protect my wellbeing.
The reality is that every single day, our lifestyle and environment place stresses on our bodies. These stresses can be simplified down to the three Ts: thoughts, traumas, and toxins.
Let’s break that down a little bit, shall we?
By thoughts I mean emotional stresses. This is the typical stress when we think of that word (did you know that even saying the word stress can cause stress hormones to increase in our body?!) – this can be anything that weighs on our mind surrounding school, work, finances, relationships, or families.
Traumas aka physical stresses can be little repetitive micro-traumas such as sitting at a desk for long hours throughout the day, poor posture, or repetitive motions for work or activities. It can also be large traumas such as a fall, surgery, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, etc.
Lastly, toxins refer to chemical stresses we come into contact with. Chemical stress can be anything that goes in, on, or around our body that is considered toxic or not nutritious. So think alcohol, caffeine, sodas, processed foods, fast food, smoking, etc. Even toxic ingredients in our household or skincare products seep into our skin and bloodstream and have a negative effect on our overall health and well-being. (Hey self-care candles and face masks – I’m looking at you!)
When you think about health overall, imagine it like one big scale. On the left side is illness, and on the right side is wellness. Every single day of our life we are either moving to the right or the left side of that scale.
If we live life passively, letting those thoughts, traumas and toxins build-up in our body, we’re moving to the left side towards illness. The purpose of self-care is to move us back to the right, towards health and wellness of the body, mind, and soul.
So can self-care look like slapping on a face mask and having some quiet time? Absolutely – just check to see there are no toxic ingredients in that face mask. Self-care can be committing to a walk outside in nature every day. It can be 5 minutes of stretching before bed. It can be taking time to cook yourself a home-cooked meal full of fresh, clean ingredients. Whatever eliminates, reduces, or manages those thoughts, traumas and toxins in your life is what we want. That’s going to steer you to the right side of the scale towards healing and wellness.
& that my friends is the true purpose of self-care.
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