Self care can be categorized into the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual elements of ourselves. Within each of those categories are an infinite number of ways to care for oneself.
We often "self care" to counteract the collective high-stress baseline of our high stress society.
Actions such as; sleeping, eating, exercising, socializing, maintaining personal boundaries and meditation can lead to a "balanced life" which could be defined as self care.
Very often and unfortunately, self care is lumped into images of someone on a private beach, a secluded forest, doing a yoga pose in fancy pants (hehe) or being surrounded by objects of adornment. These images and "lifestyles" are accessible to some people, but not the vast majority of us and especially those living in low-income communities.
The self care image of luxury, adornment and vacationing is an image of exclusion (in my opinion), only accessible to those who can afford it.
How can we create an inclusive version of self care?
Is it possible that the term self care has become a marketting tool?
Has self care been marketed as a way to convince us we are more stressed than we actually are?
In order to understand self care we have to understand the root, the origin of self care (inserting opinion again), which is self awareness.
For example, if someone's life is focused solely on survival (ie, a single parent, low-income family, someone working 3 jobs to barely make ends meet) how is it possible for them to even have the awareness that they are in need of self care? How can self care be more accessible to those living in desperation?
Personal self disclosure; I have spent the majority of my life (not so much anymore) living in a constant state of frustration and anger, I became so used to that state of consciousness that I didn't even know there was another way to experience life. In that state of existence, I couldn't "self care" because I didn't know how and even if I tried things like meditation or exercising, my mind was so deep into the survival mode that no matter how awesome the routine was, that anger couldn't be penetrated, I wouldn't feel relaxed.
This can apply to anyone who has struggled with mental health management, physical disorders such as chronic pain or chronic illness, addictions, financial problems, those who have to face racial, social and gender based inequalities on a daily basis.
We need to build on our self awareness first in order to know what our personal needs are, and to then take the necessary actions to care for ourselves on a level beyond just surviving.
We don't need any material object or location to build awareness. Awareness and especially self awareness is the ability to asses the moment. Something as simple as stating our feelings; "I feel tired", "I feel hungry", "i feel excited", "i feel frustrated with my co-worker and/or boss", "i feel content" etc etc. These simple statements create enough awareness to take action.
The next course of action being "I feel tired, so tonight I am going to go to bed earlier" or "I feel frustrated at work because (insert experience here), so I am going to talk to my boss and see if we can find a way that I can feel more comfortable and be more productive at work". Neither of the above statements will necessary fix anything, but the awareness of self that is being built is the most important step.
Self care is an action, one that must come from awareness of our surroundings, of our state of mind, of the experience of our bodies. It is also compassion for ourselves, taking the appropriate steps to regulate our bodies, emotions, spirituality and mental performance.
To make self care inclusive we need to build on the facets of it that ARE accessible to everyone. To make it accessible we need to share our knowledge and our practices, our money and resources to those in need. We can teach each other meditation, exercises, recommend books and movies, we can share the most precious thing: our time. Our time to listen to one another, to spread compassion, to listen to the stories of those who are marginalized. Hang out with our friends in a wholesome way that benefits everyone. This all seems like the opposite of self care....(OMG) selflessness! I am not saying that self care is selfishness, but it is a fine line in our society right now when it excludes others.
Through acts of selflessness (inserting opinion again), we learn more about ourselves than taking a bath with expensive candles on a private beach racking up our credit cards will ever teach us. The more we learn about ourselves through compassion for others, the more we can care for ourselves and understand our own needs. I truly believe that self care is the result of practised compassion, of opening our hearts and really challenging our minds to see our existence on a higher level, beyond our individuality.
Every person who reads this will interpret this differently, they will come up with ideas for themselves about how to build on awareness, how to spread compassion, maybe ponder how they did or did not treat someone else with compassion. The most important being how they did or did not treat themselves with compassion. If any of the above ideas or questions has sparked a little fire in our minds, then awareness has been achieved.
Thank you for reading and please feel welcome to comment below or share your experiences of inclusive self care.