Self-care is a buzzword that seems to have taken over our social media, magazines and the news. Historical uses have ranged from mental health to colonialism to activism to the hippie movement and now to an industry worth more than £8 billion. What exactly does self- care mean and where on earth did it come from? Did people in previous generations practice self care? Well, yes they did, howbeit for different reasons.
Records show that self-care was used as far back as ancient Greece. The concept was very much associated with the wealthy, upper and middle class people who viewed themselves as superior to others without the means or the opportunity to so.
What does this mean for you?
In as much as self-care has been monetized and is now a massive industry, and its true meaning is at risk of being lost in all the hype, it's still a positive concept to implement. However, it does not just mean spa days, using expensive products on your face or going on expensive vacations.
My definition of self-care is recognising what you need, physically, spiritually and mentally and meeting those needs.
This is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or hierarchy of motivation. It is a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow and it depicts human needs arranged as a hierarchy from the most basic needs which form the foundation to be able to think about psychological and self-fulfilment needs. Looking at this then, it's important to start from your basic physical needs.
Get enough sleep. Although there are researches that suggest we need 7-8 hours of sleep, new information is emerging that shows that we sleep in cycles of 90mins. If you wake up naturally without an alarm, you will notice that the number of hours you’ve slept is roughly a multiple of 90mins.
Feed your body not your mouth.
There is a difference between eating and actually feeding your body the nutrients it needs. So eat healthy. Water, aqua, H2O. There is no substitute, our body is made up of 70% water. Use markers on bottles to help you get enough water in throughout the day. Or you could attach drinking water to time periods for example 100ml every hour.
Keep on moving
Go for a walk, a run, to the gym or up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift. Research has shown that women who exercise more are at low risk of dementia.The key is to try to incorporate these activities into your day so that you do them without having to think about them or make active decisions.
Read or listen
We all know this is important. If you don't have time to read, listen to audiobooks on your commute. Listening is great for your brain because you have to use your imagination.
Use your imagination.
Sit down sometime and do nothing. This childlike act can help relieve stress and keep your brain active.
Take a break.
Have a kitkat. No, i’m kidding. But you need breaks to move away from your routine. This refreshes your brain.
Have a conversation that goes beyond the weather.
Talk about a book you've read or a movie you’ve seen or just ask what other people think about certain topics (try and avoid politics though).
Taking on too much is not looking after yourself. Those things will not get done at all if you breakdown. So, know how much you can handle and politely tell people no.
Be part of a community
We are in danger of getting carried away and being isolated through the use of ‘self-’ prefix. Self-help, self-care, self-this, self-that. A lot of care actually requires community and people interaction. Since its women’s history month, I will use women as examples here. The women of old used their communities for support since that’s all most of had. Lets not forget this.
Ask for help
If you are the type that tries to do everything, start learning to ask for help. Pick the practice that works for you and plan it into your day so that it does not feel like another extra thing you have to do.
"Health is something to enjoy today, not something we achieve in the future by denying ourselves now, we need to prioritise our own well being each and every day. - Dr. Kate Gregorevic
"Sit down sometime and do nothing."
"Know how much you can handle and politely tell people no."
"Self-care is recognising what you need, physically, spiritually and mentally and meeting those needs. "