How to practice self-care correctly (and actually feel better)


Oh, self-care. The thing everyone and their dog talk about. The magic ingredient that supposedly makes everyone’s life happy and care-free…

But what is self-care, and how do you practice it?

Self-care – the Pinterest/Instagram way

If you ever fell into the self-care Pinterest hole, you’ve probably spent hours researching different self-care ideas. Ranging from taking a bath to journaling, they all have one thing in common: they’re supposed to be relaxing and give us a break from work.

Well, I’ve tried a bunch of those self-care ideas. I’ve done face-masks, I did manicures, and the only reason why I haven’t bought relaxing bath salts yet is because we simply don’t have a bath tub in our house.

But here’s the truth: these things aren’t truly self-care. Not for me, at least. They only seemed like a good idea because YouTube and Instagram convinced me that that’s what self-care is supposed to look like.

The reality is that I hate doing my nails. What the heck is supposed to be relaxing about not being able to use your hands for half an hour? Face-masks are annoying (and my skin looks far better when I leave it alone most of the time!). And when I truly think about it, taking a bath sounds like a solid waste of time (and water!) to me. 

Of course, everyone is different. If these things make you feel good, by all means, do them! But maybe you’re like me and you’ve simply fallen into the Social Media trap, but have no idea how to actually practice self-care.

Self-care – or simply a waste of time?

There are no universal activities that count as self-care. Self-care looks different for everyone. And yet, it’s so hard to not get influenced by Social Media and other people. So, how do you know how self-care should look for you personally?

The main pitfall I’ve come across is trying to take care of myself by doing something that’s actually just a waste of time for me. Like manicures – I hate the process of doing them, I don’t particularly like my nails painted, and I despise taking off nail polish! 

But how do we distinguish between activities that count as self-care, and those that don’t?

The only reliable way is to try them out, and see how they make you feel. What fuels you with energy, imagination and motivation? What makes you feel dull and bored?

For me, reading (good books) will always leave me more creative. A good show or documentary can do the same. I get tons of new ideas that I’m burning to share, I’m inspired to see the world differently, change something, and so on.

On the contrary, watching random YouTube videos just gives me a headache in the long run. Even supposedly motivational videos can only be appreciated in small doses, or else I’m just groggy and tired. YouTube as a medium just does not work for me (something about an overload of information and seemingly endless resources, maybe?).

So, try out different activities and see how it goes. If manicures make you feel great and relaxed, do them! But if, like me, you get annoyed at the process, they’re not for you. If you don’t like reading, just skip it as a self-care activity. If the best way to get your juices flowing is to dance to old Britney Spears songs, just do that.

Be intentional!

Self-care doesn’t stop at the general choice of activities that make you feel good. You can’t just decide that reading works well for you and pick up a random book anytime you need to fill your cup.

Instead, focus on what kind of book might inspire and motivate you right now.

There are moments when I can only read detective novels. Other times, I need a warm, reassuring hug from my reading material and resort to childhood favourites. Sometimes it’s books about personal development, sometimes it’s ever-inspiring classics.

And this distinction doesn’t just go for books! For instance, be intentional about the Instagram accounts that you follow. Certain influencers can motivate you and make you feel good, while others keep posting about the right way to clean your bathroom when you can’t even remember the last time you actually did clean your bathroom… that’s no good. And a waste of time, because you’ll probably move in a year and no one cares about cleaning the cracks between the tiles anyway, right? Right?

The right self-care for every situation

Self-care doesn’t look the same in every situation, either. Even when you’ve defined what activities usually count as self-care for you and which don’t, you still have to adapt that knowledge to everything you’re going through.

For instance, I know that watching YouTube videos (unless they’re from specific creators that I love) is usually a waste of time for me. But this doesn’t apply when I’m recovering from an IBS flare. Then, random videos about testing weird eBay products suddenly make me feel better. They help me take my mind off my flare, and that’s all I need. Thus, in these situations, this normally useless activity counts as self-care.

Even if reading is your favourite self-care activity, you might need to resort to something else when you’re stressed or anxious and can’t concentrate on a book. Sometimes, listening to music with your eyes closed is what you need. Sometimes, it might be staring out the window and doing absolutely nothing. Other times, it’s journaling about unresolved issues, even though you usually hate journaling.

All you want is to find an activity that makes you feel better, and there’s no rules to that.

Here are a couple of my posts that might interest you as well if you’re struggling with self-care:

– 5 simple ways to add self-care into every day

– what to do when you feel overwhelmed

– how to enjoy free time without feeling guilty

I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas! Please comment below and don’t forget to share this post on Social Media if you enjoyed it. 🙂

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