The world is obsessed with self-care.
Just open Pinterest or Instagram to see the inspirational quotes and the comforting down-shot of feet in bath bubbles and surrounded by candles.
It’s all about that precious ‘me time’, it’s about loving ourselves and prioritising our mental and physical health. It’s also about doing things that make us feel good, just because they made us feel good. Is it any surprise that we lap it up?
A quick Google search brings up 3,420,000,000 results for “self-care”, which is over 3 billion more than everyone’s favourite ‘Brexit’. Celebrities are becoming wellbeing gurus and marketing newsletters I read are advising on “how to build a self-care campaign”. I guess the team at McDonalds HQ maybe read the same newsletters I do, as they opted for a #selfcare campaign with an Instagram Influencer.
Even if you don’t like McDonalds or Gwyneth Paltrow, you must have seen it somewhere, right? Bookshops are creating self-care themed collections and wellbeing podcasts are on the rise. Netflix is also getting pretty good at churning out binge-worthy content that has the self-care thread running right through it – Jonathan Van Ness does indeed spark joy.
Now, admittedly, we NEED this (self-care in general, not just Jonathan).
Or, maybe better put, us millennials know we need it. Apparently, we are prioritising “personal improvement commitments” more than any other generation. It’s not only a culture, it’s an entire industry of advice, products and TED Talks and we’re cheering it on.
As anxiety in young people is on the rise and young women are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety or depression, you can kinda see why. You also only need to turn on the news or scroll Twitter to realise the world is a little bit on fire (figuratively and in some places, literally). No wonder self-care is getting a bit of a rep for distracting us from the reality of mental health issues.
But, self-care is a bit of a paradox. Sometimes linked to the rising minimalist phenomenon, it encourages going back to basics – reading a book, taking a walk in nature and living more simply. On the other hand, it’s about obtaining more and spending more – getting your hair done and buying plants to fill your home so you can finally feel at peace.
Self-care used to mean looking after yourself, or a euphemism for masturbation… now it’s all about plants and bubble baths
All this got me thinking about how many people actually do practice popular self-care activities and if they do help at all. I was even more encouraged to think about women’s self-care in light of IWD 2020 and the more I thought, researched and chatted to my friends I wondered… what real self-care is happening, that maybe we don’t talk about?
I don’t want to crush the hopes and dreams of the wellbeing practices that really do make women feel good but equally, I will seriously bang the drum for less traditional and even weird ways of being and nurturing that we don’t always talk about.
So, I went out to a bunch of women and asked…
What do you do just for you, that makes you feel good and you don’t really tell anyone about?
Maybe because it’s embarrassing, maybe you’re a private person or maybe because you’ve never considered it as ‘self-care’?
… AND THE RESPONSES DID NOT DISSAPOINT!
So, here is a collection of what some women in 2020 are doing for their ‘self-care’…
Watching People Eat
“I love watching Mukbangs on YouTube, which is basically people eating food and talking. I am a bit weird, I admit. I watch it on the fastest speed possible and really enjoy it when I see them finishing their food – it’s the only type of videos I watch all the way through. I grew up in a culture where eating food was always a happy and positive experience, so it makes me feel good when I see this"
- Mukbanger, Aged 30
“Me and my friends love talking about really serious things but adding on the most goofy or weird snapchat filter to a picture of our faces. The other day I was talking about an argument with a family member with the “shrinkydink” filter. It gives us a good laugh and helps mitigate the seriousness of some situations"
- Shrinkydink, Aged 33
Serious Bargain Hunting
“I enjoy getting the scanner in a supermarket and scanning homeware and clothes as I go around, to find bargains that are still marked as full price on the shelves. I also enjoy buying discounted food from supermarkets that are on the clearance shelf – the best buy I’ve ever had was a pork joint for 10p – take home, freeze it until it’s ready to be cooked. Everything is nicer when it’s a bargain!”
- Pork Scanner, Aged 41
Joining a Choir
“I’ve started going to a female choir and loving it – it’s something just for me. The instructor makes the choir fun and there’s nothing like singing your heart out to de-stress”
- High Notes, Aged 42
“I have become quite obsessed with deep cleaning my house on a Sunday. It’s like washing your brain, you just switch off and go into autopilot. It’s also instant gratification… like masturbating, which I also do a lot”
- Disinfectant Daisy, Aged 29
Taking out the Bin in Style
“I live in a high-rise block of flats so to take the bins out I have to get the lift to the basement. I normally grab the nearest pair of shoes and once I grabbed heels… it started from there. For two years now I’ve loved taking out the bin bag with my heels on. Nobody knows about it and it’s a silly thing I do just for me, making a literally rubbish task fabulous!”
- Sassy Garbage, Aged 24
“I spend all day thinking and examining ideas - sometimes I just want to switch off from that completely and watch something that requires no thought whatsoever, in fact it invites brainlessness!”
- Tune Out, Aged 39
Going to the Tip
“It's known that having a good old clear out and getting all Marie Kondo can help. But I LOVE taking things to the tip. There's something so satisfying seeing things fall into the big skips, hearing the bottles smash, never to be seen again. Bye Felicia!”
- Happy Skipper, Aged 31
Drive Through Car Wash
“Watching the water rush round the car, with nothing else to do. Not looking for traffic, not looking at your phone. Not even steering or hearing the rumble of an engine. A dedicated 10 mins to just sitting still and watching the brushes rotate right near your head and still remaining 100% warm and dry.
- Washing away the worries, Aged 22
Playing with Tills at Costco
“I play with the cash registers that are for sale in Costco and I’ve been doing it for years. I also suck my thumb!”
- Ka Ching, Aged 48
Watching Spot Squeezing Videos
"It’s gross but so satisfying, I love it and I know quite a lot of other women who do this too! You can watch on Youtube, Instagram and there’s programmes on TV with it on too. It’s like you get the release too when you see it happen."
- Pimple Popper, Aged 47
"I’ve had a routine now that every time I’m in town on my own, I swing by Hotel Chocolat and get a big chocolate lollipop in the shape of a smiley face. It cost £2 and I love buying fancy chocolate in a fun shape and having it just for me… I do get some funny looks!"
- Lollipop Lover, Aged 31
Browsing, for no reason
"I love walking down every single isle of Home Bargains when I don’t need anything. I just switch off my brain and walk around, it’s so visual with all the products and also kind of a ‘treat yoself’ thing, but treatin’ yoself only costs 29p."
- Isle Browser, Aged 29
Scrubbing Dead Skin
"I like scrubbing dead skin off my feet. Its personal care that I neglect on a day-to-day basis. So when I have a little extra time alone I usually do foot care. I also feel really refreshed after extracting black heads, clear skin clear mind kinda thing"
- Foot Scrubber, Aged 24
Is that what you were expecting? Are you feeling inspired?
Admittedly, I also had a lot of responses that did include the more self-care culture orientated stuff like yoga, going for a run, reading a book, spending time with pets and taking a walk in nature.
I think whatever you do to make yourself feel good is perfectly valid and again, hands in the air, I do a lot of the basic self-care stuff too. However, I do think it’s just as important to notice and cherish the things we’re doing that we may not find on an Instagram post in a gorgeous font.
It’s got to be said that there is something wonderfully human and authentic about finding our little joys in the world, that are just for us. Isn’t that the real self-care we might be needing?
So, I guess you could say I’m ending on the ultimate ‘you do you, hon’. Jonathan Van Ness would be proud.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone! x
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