Sydney Milewski //
Time and time again, self-care is marketed towards women as a way to relax, recharge, and show some love to yourself. Face masks, bubble baths, and disconnecting from your devices are typical ways we are told we can participate in “self-care”. While some people recognize doing a body scrub and drinking tea can be a form of self-care, using material objects is not the only way we can practice self-care. In fact, self-care is setting healthy boundaries, drinking enough water, going on a hike, brushing your teeth, asking for help, cooking, walking your dog, reaching out to family, knitting, saying no to something you don’t want to do, cleaning your room, eating vegetables, getting 8 hours of sleep, taking a hot shower, getting a pedicure… the list could go on and on.
Many of us probably associate self-care with products, because that is the way it is marketed to us. After all, a company can’t make money off of us decluttering our room or meditating. But, self-care can be fulfilled in many ways, not just by using specific products. It is a way for us to take care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, helping us cope with daily stressors and feeling well overall. Sounds like something everyone should do, right?
The idea of self-care being something solely material has been picked up by large companies as a way to make more money. They market their in-store displays to look relaxing, with shiny text saying “Self-Care,” featuring a picture of a smiling woman. Then they sell sheet face masks, for example, with packaging that looks stereotypically feminine and includes a drawing of a woman’s face on it, making it clear that these products are designed for women. These displays, and the whole culture of self-care, imply that self-care is an action women should take. Yet, they typically disregard everyone else in this idea of self-care, as if it is not important for anyone else to engage in their well-being.
One way we can remind the people we care about to participate in self-care is by telling them about the ways we enjoy taking care of ourselves. Another way is through giving them gifts revolving around self-care. With the holiday season among us, consider giving the gift of self-care. Get your dad face oil and a jade roller for Christmas. Give your boyfriend a journal and teach him mindfulness techniques. Take your non-binary bestie to the park for yoga or plan a day to hike together. Remind them that self-care shouldn’t be seen as a “womanly” thing, and is also so much more than just the gift you gave them.
Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more. From now on, everyone should recognize that taking care of yourself is important, regardless of gender identity. It can help us to feel our best, allowing us to be better for those around us. After all: You must fill your own cup before you can pour into others.
If you would like to have another resource to learn about self-care and wellness, click here.