The Problem With Treating Self-Care Like an Instagram Hashtag

Self-care is a part of life. We all need to know how to take care of ourselves, and we all know that sometimes you just need a day off to rest, re-focus and re-charge before you can go back to being your best self. The problem (as I see it) is that self-care has become an Instagram hashtag. It has been come a trend, a way to show off your bubble bath, or your manicure, or your dessert.

I think this is dangerous because it shows only the positive, social media-friendly version of self-care. For many people, however, self-care is much more boring and much more important than all of that.

There are things I do on a regular basis that I consider self-care, as they help me stay healthy and happy. These include things like preparing lunches, cooking dinner instead of buying fast food, getting seven to nine hours of sleep (no less, no more), journaling, meditating and practicing yoga.

There are also days when my self-care routine looks a lot like laziness. Sometimes, taking care of myself means letting myself spend the day in bed because I just don’t have the energy to face the day. Some days, I consider it a success if I make it from my bed to the couch and back again. Sometimes, it takes all my energy just to get in the shower or brush my teeth. On days like those, it’s not easy to see posts about #selfcare because those things don’t seem to apply to people like me. If a bubble bath and a cup of tea can make you feel better again, then I am so happy for you, but I am also extremely jealous. Because no matter how many baths I draw, I still sometimes feel like I’m drowning.

In my journal, I have a list of self-care ideas that work for me and I encourage everyone to make their own list. But I also encourage you not to compare your list to anyone else’s. You might even have different lists for different days, and that’s OK.

Here is one list I have, filled with “typical” self-care ideas that work for me when I’m having a bad day but am overall in a relatively good place.

  1. Have a bubble bath.
  2. Practice yoga.
  3. Color.
  4. Play the ukulele.
  5. Watch a funny movie.
  6. Read a book.
  7. Scrapbook or journal.
  8. Go for a walk or to the gym.
  9. Call/text a friend.
  10. Do hair/makeup or paint my nails.

Here is another list I have, for things I need to remember to do when the darkness is taking over. On the worst days, being able to check even one thing off this list is something to be celebrated.

  1. Take a shower.
  2. Brush your teeth.
  3. Eat something (healthy, if possible).
  4. Open the curtains.
  5. Do (at least some of) the dishes.
  6. Get dressed (even if only in clean pajamas).
  7. Go outside (literally even if just to the balcony).
  8. Text a friend.
  9. Take your medication.
  10. Repeat: “This too shall pass.”

If nothing else, please remember that self-care looks different for everybody. Some days, a bubble bath might be all you need to feel better, but some days, you might need more than that, and that’s OK. As long as you are taking care of yourself, then in my opinion, you’re doing #selfcare right.

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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