I'm curious what compelled you to read this post. When you see the words, "self-care", what reaction do you have?
Perhaps a piece of you shrugs and says, "yeah, I really should do a better job of self-care". Maybe you decided to read because you are looking for guidance or ideas about what to do that qualifies as self-care. Maybe you are reading because you think to yourself, "well, my yoga teacher/therapist/bowen practitioner are always talking about self-care, so I should get into it".
I'd like to tell you what I have been thinking lately about this whole self-care notion. Where I am at now is part of a long arc and it might not be what I feel later on in my self-discovery experiment either. From a pop-spirituality perspective I think that self-care is currently drowning in self-indulgence. I think it's a middle-class typically white person construct that was creating to be monetized. It's a fairly narrow perspective to think that in addition to the pressures of surviving the current economic and political climate, and the demands of making ends meet, we should also feel pressure if we don't "invest in ourselves" via shoe shopping, expensive goop vitamins, bubble baths, and paying someone else to blow dry our hair. Let me take a second to point out that all of these things are also aimed nearly exclusively at one gender. And that they are almost entirely about external appearance.
I think that self-care goes beyond indulgence for its own sake:
I think if we look at it the right way, it becomes an important MUST.
Here are the criteria I have for self-care:
1) Is it based on a felt-sense, or an image? (eg. Body work like massage, osteopath, yoga, bowen etc are all self-care for sure, and I think they matter tremendously)
2) Does it have a positive impact on my health
3) Is it done to the detriment of someone else, or is it a positive or at least net zero for everyone impacted?
4) Does it help eliminate distractions of illness or weakness so that I have more energy to invest in creating a positive life?
That last one is the big punch for me. If we aren't fighting yet, maybe we will be after this next thought. Depression is now the world's leading cause of illness and disability, affecting about 300 million people. A bubble bath isn't likely to help that. But I think that self-care could play an important role, as long as we understand that we participate in self-care so that we have the energy to go and stand up for what we believe is right. To have the capacity to give to people we love, to people in our neighbourhoods, to do meaningful work and to create our own reality.
So my homework for you today is to start sketching out your mission. What do you think is important in life? Who can you lend a hand to? What is it that you would like to see change/grow/end/begin? Once you begin to crystallize those ideas, you had better get ready because there is much work to be done.