Self care – one of the most frequently used phrases by beauty brands, celebrities and wellness gurus. In its simplest form, self care is a great thing – taking care of yourself is never a bad idea. But in our culture, “self care” has come to be its own industry in itself; it is a phrase used to peddle spa days, shopping sprees, bubble baths, holidays, and even sex toys. None of these things are bad in themselves, but many people are asking the question: has the self care industry gone too far, and is it really designed to help people any more?
In this post, we’ll delve into the meaning of “self care” in its purest form, and take a look at whether industry examples are really going to help you.
The Self Care Industry
What is the self care industry? Self care has become a term used to describe anything that involves spending money on yourself. A spa might use “self care” as a term when packaging a new all-day treatment plan; it might be scrawled across a t-shirt in H&M. It is said that the self care industry is worth up to $11 billion – quite amazing, really, when you consider the fact that it wasn’t even a popular term until just a few years ago.
So, back to the question: does the self care industry help people? Of course, in basic terms, it can help you. Having a relaxing spa day or buying some new clothes can work wonders for stressed individuals who need to spend some time treating themselves.
On the other hand, buying things or spending money on spa treatments won’t fix inner issues that might need further attention. There’s no such thing as buying away problems that might require more self reflection or mental work. The self care industry only goes so far when actually doing what it purports to do: helping you take care of yourself.
The self care industry does what one might call “surface level self care”. There’s nothing wrong with it on the surface, but on a deeper level, it shouldn’t replace other types of self care that can’t be monetized.
Let’s take a look at an example, shall we?
Imagine you’ve had a really rough week. Work is extremely difficult; perhaps there have been a few arguments with your spouse. You’re tired, you feel burned out, and you can’t seem to catch a break. What do you do?
Perhaps you take yourself to the mall and get a massage, followed by one of those dough pretzels covered in cinnamon. Delicious – now you’re relaxed and full. You go home with a greater sense of motivation; “I can do this, just push through the week,” you think to yourself.
Now cut to a month later. Work is still hard, there are still arguments with your spouse. Your mall routine has become a regular occurrence: somehow, though, its restorative effects are wearing thin.
So what else can you do? Perhaps you should try taking a bubble bath every night after work. It soothes the muscles and alleviates headaches. Yes, that’ll sort it.
Cut to a year later. Things at work are okay, but things at home are getting worse. No amount of mall shopping, bubble baths or massages is going to work things out between you and your spouse.
This, readers, is where the self care industry falls short. For minor inconveniences and short term relaxation, the self care industry can be an amazing tool. For bigger, deeper problems, people often try to engage with the surface level version of self care, and ultimately fail. Those kinds of things need greater attention: and that’s what our next section is going to be about.
3 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself & Battle Problems Outside of the Self Care Industry
The self care industry will tell you that it can fix your life problems. Well, it can’t. As we saw in the previous scenario, big-deal life issues like marital problems, mental health crises, grief, ill health or trauma won’t be solved by spending money on material things or temporary health treatments.
So what can you do to take care of yourself when surface level self care falls short? Here are 3 things you can do for long term, proper self care – outside of the self care industry.
1. Invest in mental health treatment, such as therapy.
Therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR, are one of the most effective ways of treating mental distress, illness or trauma. If you want to invest in yourself long term, put down the volcanic clay face cream (although those can be great for your skin!) and start investing in your mind.
2. Learn techniques to cope with struggles in life.
You can actually learn solid techniques that help you cope with things like grief, anxiety and depression, if you experience them. Techniques such as meditation, using Simply CBD to help calm anxiety; exercise to release endorphins; breathing exercises for if you experience panic attacks; and plenty of other techniques can help you find calm when the storm rolls in.
3. Spend more time outdoors in nature.
This is a slightly different tip to the other two on the list, but boy, is it a good one. Psychologists are finding more and more that a lack of exposure to the natural world can be detrimental to people’s health. If you find yourself feeling blue, overstretched, burned out or are experiencing some emotionally distressing times in your life, spending more time in the great outdoors is amazing for you.
Breathing clean air, seeing animals in their natural habitats, and touching grass and trees can be more calming than you might think. Nature gives us perspective, which is often what is lacking when people become trapped in a cycle of negative feelings.
Although there’s nothing wrong with surface level self care, long term self care is a less glamorous, but more effective way to stay mentally healthy and strong. A bit of both usually works wonders. What have you done today to take care of yourself?