Most of us have been sold a very reductive idea of what self-care actually is. Commodifying self-care carries the risk of trivialising mental health, in this article I take you through my thoughts on it.
Self-careTechniques and general lifestyle changes or habits that help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. was originally born as a form of therapy, but quickly entered the zeitgeist of female wellness in a pretty disingenuous way. But what is self-care, really?
“Self care is about recharging depleted energy,” says Jessica Boston, a cognitive hypnotherapist who specialises in working with anxiety and women’s confidence. “It means something a little bit different to everybody, but it’s anything where you’re making an effort to put yourself first and reconnecting back to yourself.”
As women we’re constantly being sold products or treatments under the guise of self-confidence and empowerment, so it can be hard to understand the real meaning of self-care with all the red tape surrounding it. Boston explains that this is often due to “years and years of conditioning from a system that benefits from the misery that comes from women having a dysfunctional relationship with their bodies”.
If you can make women feel uncomfortable in their bodies, you can sell them a commodified idea of self-care. “I feel strongly about women’s misery being used to sell them things (and) about making sure they don’t feel good enough, hijacking that and tell them ‘this is the solution to how you feel’.”
At its core, self-care is about processing your emotions and reconnecting with yourself. For some that manifests through bubble baths or a brow appointment, but sometimes it can be as boring as catching up on life admin or doing chores. Whatever the activity, whether it’s going for a walk or out for dinner with friends, the importance lies in setting time aside for an activity that will truly sustain you, and help make life a little less overwhelming. “Put time aside to send a message to your brain that you’re worthy of putting yourself first,” says Boston, adding that it doesn’t necessarily require focusing on your appearance, nor budget.
The issue with how we talk about self-care today is that it often limits our understanding of it to stereotypical and superficial activities, but commodifying self-care carries the risk of trivialising mental health. Self-care manifests differently for every woman, but the bottom line is that it should assert that your self-worth and wellness are important. Whether that means bubble baths or boundaries is completely up to you.
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