Take a bubble bath with homemade essential oils.
Light 57 soy-based candles in an arrangement resembling Stonehenge.
Dance, ideally like no one is watching.
While I gleefully hop aboard the Whacky Idea train, sometimes it’s just too much. Although I haven’t actually read any of those self-care suggestions they resemble what’s out there.
At its most basic, self-care is just taking care of yourself. Identifying and addressing your needs. The end.
You know how people say the best gym to join is the one you’ll frequent? (Well, they do.) Because while the snazzy gym miles away has a clientele as smokin’ as its fresh-from-the-dryer towels, the senior citizen’s delight around the corner means no excuses for missed workouts. (Then, once you’re super buff, visit the hot people gym and knock their socks off. It comes full circle.)
In the same vein, the best suggestions for self-care are the ones you’ll use. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked female friends what they do to take care of themselves and in response they scrunch up their noses and ask, “You mean manicures and massages and stuff?” Clearly these ladies are more acquaintances than friends, because OF COURSE I mean BOTH. In excess. But I digress.
Engaging in self-care that resonates with you is fundamental. Because if you’re half-hearted, your inner monologue will note, Lemme get this straight. I’m going out of my way to do some dopey thing I didn’t know I was supposed to like in order to feel better? What about the frustration from this dumb activity? When do I address that?
Before you know it, you’ve decided, I don’t like these suggestions, so I won’t partake.
And this heel digging raises the question, Why bother with self-care in the first place? Why indeed.
In essence, it's refreshing. The details of how you treat yourself add up, and produce a blueprint for what you’ll tolerate from others. You’re training yourself to be worth it, where “it” means whatever you decide.
As a kid, I often wore "real," nicer clothes around the house, which understandably and routinely drove my mom, the in-house laundress, crazy. Why, Julia, when nothing is happening? Because I wanted to feel and look good all the time, whether real or imaginary friends were invited to play.
Self-care is really about awareness. It’s knowing yourself. And knowing your Self. But here’s the best, most gratifying part: it doesn’t need to be anything you wouldn’t ordinarily do. No need to get elaborate or complex—remember the gym metaphor. To ensure internal compliance, I keep my care ideas really simple.
For example, my hair elastics are becoming ratty. Thinking about it, I realized I haven’t gotten new ones in a year and a half. Would I replace them anyway? You bet. But by taking control before being controlled, it’s a fun little activity. As soon as I finish this post I’m headed to Etsy to order yards of fold over elastic for a forthcoming slew of homemade hair ties.
Recently I noticed I was scrounging for pens, so I preemptively bought new ones. Again, the purchase was inevitable, but I saw the speed bump and navigated to keep life running smoothly. There is more gel ink in the world than I could ever use, so I hooked myself up and proceeded.
For the longest time, I did not understand the upscale sock crowd. Hard as it is to believe, my snobbery excluded the insides of my shoes. With guys, it made sense. They aren’t smothered with accessorizing options, so socks are one of their few outlets for sartorial self-expression. I respect that, and even bow internally when I see a dude with striped ones instead of standard black.
Impulsively, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. So I bought a multi-pack of fancy, comfy socks. The hype is legit! They’re so smooth and cozy! My set includes one polka dot pair—teal dots on navy background—and weeks later I’m still excited when I see them.
Start small, with attention and the intention to treat yourself well. Spend a few minutes noticing objects you use every day. What condition are they in? Fresh from Amazon? Coming apart at the seams? Somewhere in between? I’m sure you think it makes no difference. I assure you it does. Aren’t you worth a gleaming, sophisticated water bottle instead of the branded one from the car dealership?
Yes, you are. Go order it now.
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