For the longest time, I equated self-care with beautification. I would “take a day to myself” to go to the salon, do my hair or nails, or get a wax. Now, I felt good doing these things – after all, “when you look good, you feel good.” But I never examined why. What I did not consider was that all of these “self-care” activities were tied to a very specific standard of beauty. That standard of beauty did not include wild and curly hair, chipped nail polish, or hairy arms like mine. It required me to be put together and polished.
At some point, I realized I wasn’t choosing my self-care activities for the right reasons. I wasn’t doing them because they brought me peace, contentment, passion, or joy. Rather, I was choosing what I thought was “necessary” to be a functioning, normal, and reasonably attractive member of society. I was doing them because I felt the way I was at the time was not enough. This isn’t self-care at all. I was basically using my me-time for beauty rehab. My self-care routine boiled down to chores, just of a different type.
Now, I’m not suggesting getting hair or nails done can never feel good or bring peace or joy. In fact, I do get a lot of enjoyment from getting my scalp or hands massaged or seeing a pretty design on my fingers. What I am suggesting, however, is that I needed to examine the reason why I chose an activity. More importantly, I needed to consider why I called it self-love and if that was actually true. I needed to consider what the activity was doing for me.
Other Options for Self-Care Activities
I’ve devised a fool-proof test that tells me whether something is self-care or not. That test is this: do I lose track of time doing it? If the answer is yes, then it is probably an act of self-care. Sometimes, self-care activities can depend on the moment. There are times I really love sitting at the nail salon. Other times, I’m wondering why it’s taking so dang long and I just want to run out of there. If that happens, I know it’s not self-care, and if I want to do something for myself, what I just did wasn’t it.
Here are some options for self-care activities I’ve loved recently and that are entirely unrelated to my looks.
- Reading a book
- Tending to the garden
- Drinking tea on my balcony
- Going for a walk or hike
- Sketching, drawing, or coloring
- Listening to good music with my noise cancelling headphones
- Creating a food or drink flight for myself
- Cooking or baking something delicious
- Watching a gripping show or murder documentary
- Decorating a small space (my desk, nightstand, bed)
- Playing with my two cats
- Getting rid of things I don’t need
So, what brings you joy? Let me know in the comments!