As someone who battles depression and anxiety, self-care is the greatest weapon in my arsenal. I‘ve always used it to curb my insecurities as a college student, but recently, I’ve become confused by the different ways people define this practice. Self-care posts are plastered over social media, I’ve had people shout “Treat yo self” to me as I pass bake sales in the Marketplace and I’ve seen fliers about self-care events with free face masks and lotions, but what does it really mean? I think it’s time we talk about this misconception of self-care and how it became a fad rather than a necessity of life.
Don’t get me wrong — everything I listed above is great for students and I have nothing but respect for the different organizations on campus that are addressing self-care through different channels. But it is super important for us, the average college student body, to remember that self-care is different for every individual. According to Tessa Pinnola, a group fitness instructor and a junior majoring in nursing, self-care is “acting in a way to promote a healthy mind, body and soul.” With this definition in mind, how can every single one of us achieve this just by putting a face mask on?
Try not to mistake self-care as a set of specific physical tasks to complete, as often depicted on Facebook and Pinterest. Self-care is anything that helps you relax and focus, which can range from going to the gym, journaling or just creating a mental plan for your life. It should make you feel happy, energized and excited. Prioritize your happiness and do whatever you need to achieve it.
Many people tend to associate self-care with feminine activities and therefore think it is only practiced by females. Of course men can also enjoy bubble baths, but self-care activities can be much more than that, and can be enjoyed by anyone. They range from watching your favorite movie for the 50th time, indulging on some extra chocolate or just taking a long, hot shower after a tiring day. Self-care should be essential to every single individual on this planet, no matter what gender they identify as.
Keep in mind that self-care is a journey, not a day’s task. Think about it this way: How can you achieve the best version of yourself in 24 hours and continue to stay that way for the rest of your life? You can’t expect direct results, but the long-term impact is well worth it. Practicing self-care brings mental stability, wellness and possibly greater self-confidence, but the best part about self-care is that it is all about and for YOU.
Start taking care of yourself. Pinnola said that the best piece of advice is to not stress yourself about actually engaging in self-care.
“Every day is not going to be perfect,” she said. “Self-care is an ongoing thing. Take every day one day at a time. Try to do something for yourself every day, even if it’s as simple as stopping on your way to class to sit with a friend. Those little moments of happiness add up.”
It is an amazing accomplishment to say you genuinely take care of yourself. In this fast-paced world, it is especially difficult to just be present and put yourself before everything else. Self-care is a wonderful thing to add to your daily life and unfortunately it might not always be easy. If you do want to take on the challenge of self-care, remember it is a commitment and you’re definitely not going to find that commitment in just a face mask.