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The surprising simplicity of self-care and how much of what we know is vanity in disguise.

In truth self-care really is #basic. Today I am going to highlight a few ways that self-care can be kept simplified and why it is important for you overall wellbeing to regularly take care of yourself.

Three kayakers are kayaking out on a blue lake. Two kayaks are red and orange, one is teal. The sky is blue with fluffy white clouds and a dense treelike is seen in the background.

Disclaimer: First, I am not a licensed medical professional or expert, what I discuss today has been based off my personal journey and observations. My aim is to highlight an issue only. Second, I began this post after a big realization that I myself had been looking at self-care all wrong. I have also been practicing it all wrong. So, this post not only serves to educate but it serves as a big wake up call to myself that I need to enact changes in my life so that I am actually providing my own self with proper self-care. It is a call for realignment. I hope that this post resonates with you as much as it did with me when I wrote it. Third, I have kept this as non-judgemental as I possibly can because I have strayed from the path too. We are all humans; we are all susceptible to human error – but this is okay. When you notice you are going astray, just try to get back on the path again. Now, let’s begin.


Self-care is everywhere. It has become a super trendy pastime to participate in and yet we have made it much more complex than it needs to be. It has been made to seem luxurious and ornate with all of these fancy gadgets or practices and routines to implement within your routine. It is also synonymous with the beauty industry which brings about a level of complication that we really do not need. Another important factor I want to highlight is that self-care has been made predominantly feminine, which side-lines about half our population…who by the way, should also be benefitting from self-care routines.


As you can see from just one paragraph, there is a lot to unpack!


To begin the process, let us take a look at what ‘self-care’ truly means. Self-care is the act of looking after yourself, taking care of yourself and putting your needs at the top of the priority board. It is time and space for you to practice selfishness. I do not mean selfishness in a way that brings harm to either yourself or others, but the selfishness that actually helps you (and subsequently everyone else around you too). The selfishness wherein you focus on your health – in all forms – and make it your highest priority.


Two people hold hands. Their hands rest on a wooden fence that overlooks a small pond.

In its most basic form, self-care is looking after your health through good nutrition that supports your body, exercising regularly (in whatever way this may be), balancing work with leisure, having hobbies and a strong support system filled with healthy relationships between family, friends, partners, even colleagues.


This is what self-care should be marketed as.

Instead, what we get are face-masks, facials, massages, retail therapy, binging food, spa weekends, getting our nails done…to name a few. Did you notice that all of these practices focus on our physical appearance? All it shows us is that the self-care we believe to be self-care is actually just vanity disguised as self-care. It has become another way for the beauty industry to sink its claws into us, get us to spend ridiculous amounts of money and generally make us feel less than worthy.


Quick disclaimer: this is not to disparage over these practices. After all pampering yourself can be a form of self-care and why not indulge in them every so often? I certainly do. It is just not my main form of self-care. What I am saying is that it is simply not the only form of self-care out there.


Sadly, the popular version of self-care is very surface level. Meaning that over time, it will actually negate the positive impact it is meant to have as it actually preaches vanity over substance and that love for ourselves is only ever skin deep. Which is where I find myself at a crossroads with self-care.


Not to mention, it can get expensive to practice surface self-care. And practicing it too often as a form of self-care can make it less special so we will place less importance on it, and it will eventually feel less special. This just leads to self-care becoming null and void. This is what I have experienced when I participate in too much surface self-care. Like my aunt says, “everything in moderation”. Remember that. She is onto something with it.


The other big issue with surface self-care is how interwoven with the beauty industry it is. It makes it seem a highly feminine thing which leads to a significant chunk of our overall population being led to believe that self-care is not something for them, when in fact self-care is for everyone!! This is actually a massive issue within the wellness industry too but I will save that rant (because yes it is going to get rant-y) for another post!


One way to do this is to help people understand that self-care is more than just surface self-care. Which leads me nicely into the next part of this post: what self-care actually is. Let’s take a little look.

Self-care is can be simplified down to 5 things.


Good nutrition

I will preface this one by saying I am not a certified nutritionist so I won’t be giving any advice – all I will say is what I have learned from my own (ongoing) experiences. This aspect of self-care can be tricky but only in the sense that it may take a while to find out what good nutrition means for you and your body. For some people, this may look like lots of red meat, for others, veganism. Whatever it is, do what works for yourself and what provides you the best health. It may take a whole lot of experimentation, but eventually you will find a diet that works for you and your lifestyle. If this is something you feel you need/want help in, speak to a licensed medical professional or nutritionist and they can offer more guidance. This is a crucial aspect to lock down because this is the fuel we give our bodies to function across every level: physical, mental and emotional. If you wish, use this as the base level of your self-care pyramid. Lock this down first, then let the rest follow.


Proper sleep

Next on the self-care pyramid is ensuring you get proper sleep. You need the right amount of sleep as well as high quality sleep. Now if you are the type of person to employ gadgets or apps or whatnot to help you with this, then by all means, bring them into your sleep routine. But know this: it is not just babies that need a sleep routine. Everyone does. And it’ll look different for everyone. Not everyone needs 8 hours; some need less, some more. Monitor your sleep cycle to help you figure this out. Monitoring can also help you discover the best set up to get proper sleep. For instance, if you are a light sleeper, you will need to find ways to reduce ambient noise and light. Getting proper, high quality sleep is essential for us to be able to live well – it is where we get most of our rest, so be sure to make the most of it.


Regular movement

Third up on the self-care pyramid is getting frequent exercise. Again, this will look wholly different for everyone. First off, not everyone is a gym-rat and that is a-okay. I am not one either as much as I tried to be. Gyms can be tedious, overwhelming, and slightly toxic at times. But many other forms of exercise can be found outside the gym. Rock-climbing, hiking, swimming, cycling, skiing, dancing, even walking are all forms of exercise you can do outside the gym. You could join a community sports team or a running club, or exercise at home…endless options! Just get moving because it massively benefits our health: it improves efficiency, productivity, releases stress, strengthens our immune system…to name a few. Work up to exercising 4 days a week as a general rule of thumb.


A group of women perform a choreographed shuffle dance. their right legs are crossed over their left legs and both arms are raised out at shoulder-level.

Leisure time

Fourth on this self-care pyramid is making sure that you get adequate rest. Yes – sleep does add into this, but I more mean how you spend your time off. Obviously if you are a fully grown adult you will always have tasks outside work (housekeeping, laundry, cooking etc) to take care of but it is crucial that you make time to just chill. Try to have at least one hobby where you can unwind. I highly recommend you partake in this hobby during the week as well as on weekends because otherwise you risk living just to get to a future date and then feeling rushed and pressured into enjoying your hobby.


Your hobby can be anything, even if it is some form of active activity (kayaking, gardening, dancing etc). It can be baking, reading, doing puzzles and more. I would not rush to include sitting on a couch watching tv a hobby, but it is definitely a leisurely activity so go for it…maybe just don’t spend all your leisure time doing it. Hobbies are a great way to meet new people, spend time with loved ones or give yourself a much-needed bit of solitude – whatever floats your boat.


Healthy connections

This may seem odd, but the final level on the self-care pyramid is making sure that your closest relationships (family, partners and friends) help form a healthy support system for you. It is incredible just how much anxiety, stress and overall poorer health can come from low quality relationships. This is one that can get tough as it involves other people and may require some rigid boundaries being set or even the loss of the relationship, but it is something that can have a massive benefit towards our health and it is actually a form of deep self-care. You want your inner circle to be filled with people who love and respect you, are proud of you, are stable, reliable and yet always hold you accountable.


I seem to have sunk into this pyramid idea, so I guess it is sticking for now. Move over Maslow, there is a new Hierarchy of Needs now…nah, only jesting with y’all. In all seriousness, this is self-care as it is meant to be. As I said at the very beginning, I struggle with this too and I myself have to now make some changes in my own life. One thing I will say – just to end on a sweet note – is that please do not try to undertake all of these self-care practices at once if you are new to this or in need of a big change. It will only overwhelm you and cause your plan to backfire. Take it slow, step-by-step. Begin with food and sleep first.

A diagram created by MyEirene highlighting the 'Self-care Pyramid'.

I hope this read was as eye-opening and educational for you as it was for me to write it. This has been a tough one to write (there have been a few hard truths I am staring in the eyes right now) but I am glad I have written it and I look forward to making slow, steady shifts, one step at a time.



Until next time,



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