By: Niku Sedarat
When I ask my peers what comes to mind when I say the word "self-care," they often reply with "face masks," "bubble baths," or "green juice." Unfortunately, media has presented a distorted model of prioritizing mental health that simply does not resonate with everyone. These so-called "wellness" activities can come across as cringeworthy and unrealistic, leading some people to dismiss the importance of mental health altogether.
While bubble baths and face masks may be enjoyable activities, they do not fully capture the essence of what it means to take care of your mental health. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care, and no daily routine or trendy TikTok video should dictate how you prioritize your well-being. Your mental health is unique to you, and your way of caring for it is also deeply personal and subjective.
Since self-care is so individualized, it can be challenging to know where to start. However, at its core, self-care is as simple as doing what brings you joy and promotes your health and well-being in a sustainable manner. Engaging in seemingly mundane activities that nurture happiness and balance can be part of your self-care routine. Even daily tasks like walking your dog or cooking yourself a balanced meal are forms of self-care because they intentionally carve out time for activities that contribute to your health and happiness.
Further, when it comes to self-care and its portrayal on media, it can be difficult to compare yourself to what other individuals have established as their “self-care” routines. However, self-care is not black-or-white, and the way in which you partake in self-care can be extremely fluid. Instead of creating a routine, you could engage in different forms of self-care every day or switch it up every week. There is no “perfect” way to do self-care and embracing the grey area rather than adopting a black-or-white mindset, allows you to leave room for mobility and change in the way you choose to engage in self-care.
Whether it's exercising, maintaining a balanced diet, reading your favorite book, facetiming with a friend, or practicing guided mindfulness on Youtube, these small steps are all ways to engage in self-care. Ultimately, self-care is about understanding what works best for you and making intentional choices that align with those needs and values.
Self-care is undeniably important, but the way you define and practice it should be entirely up to you. Embrace what resonates with you, whether it's walking your dog or indulging in a relaxing bubble bath, and remember that your mental health journey is uniquely yours to navigate.