10 Honest Self Care Tips for Normal People
I am probably the last person in the world who should be giving self-care advice. I’m a workaholic who lives off sushi and red wine, spends way too much money and goes to the salon more for The Aesthetic™ than the pampering. Then again, perhaps that’s exactly the reason I should be imparting my self-declared wisdom on self-care. I live in a city where only the 1% have enough time for a relaxing bubble bath, let alone enough money to afford a bathtub. For some of us, looking after ourselves looks like indulging in very regular things.
I first heard about self-care through social justice communities. I understood it as a practice that helps people avoid burnout when doing challenging activist work. As the idea became more mainstream, I started to see people recommending all kinds of things from yoga to avocado smoothies to look after yourself. I’m allergic to avocados – and probably yoga too – so following the advice of a skinny, middle class, Insta-famous mommy probably isn’t going to do much for my body or mind.
Sometimes, self-care does look like putting yourself through some tough shit. As someone who lives with depression and anxiety, going to the doctor’s, showering every day and remembering to reply to my friends’ texts are self-care road blocks that I often hit. Having a corporeal form with so many limbs and bones in it can be a drag – and not the fun kind.
Some days, we have to do the tough stuff – the stuff that we know will make us happier, healthier, longer-lasting human beings. The stuff that makes us groan and ache and cry like injections and school and laundry. But on all the days in-between, I believe self-care looks like knowing your own body, feeding your mind with joy and undoing all the internalized bullshit we are fed about weight-loss, screen-time, and consumption. I am the happiest when I feel uninhibited by social pressures and am living my best truth. Everyone wants to give their two cents on how you should live your life and in all its irony, here’s mine:
1. Befriend your body
There’s only one person with your body – it’s you. No one else can tell you what lotion won’t irritate it or which foods will make it bigger or smaller. Capitalism makes us think we need things – figure out what you want. Maybe some people’s bodies require detoxing juices and chia seeds but some don’t. (My body absolutely needs French fries at least 3 days out of 7). If you have the time and patience, try elimination programs to see what foods actually make your body feel good and which upset it. If dieting makes you sad, don’t do it. Extricate guilt from foods – don’t feel bad about what you put in your body. You are accountable to no one except yourself. Get free samples and figure out which products your skin, lips or hair enjoy being slathered in. Ignore mainstream fatphobic media and people who sell weight-loss products on Instagram. Learn to love your body… over time. It is your friend.
2. Go to the toilet
It seems so straightforward but you will not believe how many UTIs I’ve gotten from holding in a pee. (People with vaginas - you are more susceptible to UTIs). If you’re drinking water all day – which I don’t really have a spin on, we all should be – when you need to go, GO. It’s the least you can do for yourself while you’re labouring away at work.
3. Buy nice things
When you come into a bit of financial fortune – treat yourself. Divesting from capitalism is always healthy so try local, homemade or small businesses. Get dessert after your meal. Eat candy for breakfast. Get a bottle of beer instead of a can (for some reason it seems more luxurious). Tight on money? Start a PayPal.me account and demand payment for your emotional labour. Review products in exchange for free samples. Ask brands for coupons (I haven’t paid for Charmin toilet paper in years).
4. Binge watch Netflix
Like, just do it. Watch as many episodes as you want. Spend thirty-six hours in bed. Click “yes” when Netflix asks if you’re still there. While watching TV before bed may impact your sleep, screens haven’t been around long enough for any of the nay-sayer’s rubbish about square eyes to be proven. The only bad outcome of a Netflix binge is that empty hole inside of you when there’s no more episodes.
5. Post selfies
Sometimes I put on make up just to take a selfie (pro tip: sunrise is the best lighting). It’s not for everyone but I can acutely compare how I felt about my physical appearance pre-Instagram and now. I feel infinitely more beautiful because of the way that my confidence has grown with thanks to my internet community. There’s nothing wrong with asking for affirmation or validation from friends and followers. You are worth more than your appearance but you are also far more beautiful than you know. Baby Boomers tease us for being narcissistic but self-love is never bad. If it’s not your thing, no bother. If you feel like trying out, just know there’s likes waiting for you.
6. Nurture good relationships
As someone who escaped from a toxic relationship not long ago, I can’t stress this enough. Sometimes you have to hit the unfollow button IRL. Share your boundaries and your love languages with your friends and partners. Have good, consensual, safe sex with whomever you like. Spend quality time with people who bring you joy and say no to those who suck energy from you. Reach out to people when you need help or explain to them the warning signs for when you’re in a bad place. Find out where you get your social energy from. Recharge. Accept and give meaningful compliments. Protest your own mistreatment and demand respectful interaction.
7. Take medication (if you need it)
The stigma against medication, particularly for mental health ends right now. If you need a small white oblong to make your brain a little better then go get ‘em. Don’t inhibit your own happiness or functionality because of old wives’ tales or neighbours’ gossip. However, don’t conflate neurotypicality or ability with productivity or functionality. By this I mean, do things for your body and your mind that make you feel happier, more whole and more able to accomplish your personal goals. If you feel these things already, there’s no need to alter how you exist in the world to conform to capitalist standards of a productive human. We all matter, no matter how we function.
8. Wear crop tops
Just try it. Any gender, any body. Check out the hashtag #CropTopsForAll for inspo.
9. Look at memes
A few years ago, my friends and I had a DMC (deep meaningful conversation, for those who don’t know) about how memes are evidence of millennial angst. With their nihilism, dry humour and self-deprecating nature, memes have really become a platform for candid conversations about mental health and oppression. I have found validation in seeing that other young people experience the same thing and use the internet as a tool for expression. Message me for non-problematic and hilariously queer and feminist meme pages.
10. Unplug (selectively)
A lot of self-proclaimed self-care experts tell people to ‘unplug’ but so many of us rely on our phones and computers for stress relief, anxiety reduction and communication. Unplugging is neither realistic nor an indication of being more enlightened being. However, my own experience of being harassed online by haters, racists and misogynists has led me to tighten my privacy settings on most platforms and wilfully block anyone who attempts to damage the sanctity of my social media. If you’re a person of colour, you don’t need to remain friends with racists from high school that you added when adding everyone in town was cool. You don’t need to stay friends with old bullies, abusers or exes. Delete people who waste your time and hurt your feelings. Cleanse your feeds of things that numb your mind or hurt your heart. Studies have proven that constantly being exposed to viral videos about violence can cause traumatic symptoms in viewers, especially people of colour. Curate your own virtual world; one that inspires, warms and entertains you.
by: Cicely-Belle Blain