By Mackenzie Noelle, Executive Features Editor
The “self-care” tag on any social media platform is like a haven. It’s like walking outside in a thunderstorm umbrella-less and then coming into a café lighted simply by a few string lights, wicker baskets full of flowers and signs on the walls saying things like “Be kind to yourself” and “You are enough” in a fancy calligraphy. The setting is different — but nice — and you realize that you’ve almost gotten used to being soaked by the storm.
From cliche quotes to makeup and clothing advice, “#selfcare” is included in 13.7 million posts, according to Instagram. Taking care of oneself and being reminded to do so aren’t new concepts, but it has had a continuous increase in popularity since 2015. During that year, Pew Research Center discovered that more millennials reported making personal improvement commitments than any generation before them.
According to Psych Central, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Good self-care is key to improved mood, good relationships with oneself and others and reduced anxiety.
Self-care isn’t a selfish act, either. It’s not only about considering our needs; rather, it’s about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves and eventually being able to take care of others as well.
A few weeks ago, I was babysitting three kids who wanted to build “the biggest fort ever.” We gathered blankets, chairs and anything we could find to use for the fort, and built it in a cone shape. I was finishing up the blanketed roof with one of the kids when I heard a bang coming from the other side of the fort. The youngest child, a three-year-old girl, had tripped and got a rug burn on her knee. She wasn’t bleeding — it was barely even a scratch — yet her first reaction was to get a bandaid so it didn’t get infected.
She doesn’t even know how to tie her shoes, yet she knows how to take care of her physical body, like we all do. However, we don’t know how to take care of ourselves psychologically.
“Oh, you’re depressed? Just shake it off; it’s all in your head.” Now, imagine saying that to someone with a broken leg: “Just walk it off, it’s all in your leg.”
Self-care has been approached in many ways, from “Parks and Recreation’s” “Treat yo self” to just getting off the Internet when the news gets too sad and overwhelming.
I’ve tried different methods. I’ve left leaving social media, bought 20 dollars worth of face masks and ate Ben & Jerry’s “The Tonight Dough” with my friend — but I realized afterwards that I was doing those things for the wrong reasons.
I did this to be happy and love myself, but, in all honesty, no matter what I try, it’s impossible and never brought me pure bliss. You will never be consistently happy. Sadness and attempting to stop life from running its course can’t be prevented. And as said in “Self-Care Summer” by Sara Black McCulloch, a writer for The Hairpin, “Self-care is a way to at least strengthen yourself, find some inner core so that you’re ready when life comes at you.”
Today, I’m committed to loving myself. I’m training myself to be more comfortable in my own skin and strength; programming my mind with who God says I am. I’m pursuing habits that will improve my life, such as eating breakfast in the morning (even though I hate all breakfast food besides chocolate chip pancakes), working out every day and stepping out of my comfort zone to get out of my cocoon.
I haven’t always been like this, though. I’ve spent most of my life at war with myself with countless nights crying myself to sleep and seeking someone to love me so I could try to understand that I meant something in this crazy world.
Yet even with my commitments, life still comes at me. Right now, I’m dealing with heartbreak and finding myself while having two pints of “The Tonight Dough” in my freezer.
My life isn’t perfect; my smiles aren’t always real. I still have nights that I cry myself to sleep and a stack of face masks in the cabinet under my bathroom sink just in case I have a bad day.
The chaos never ends outside and eventually we all have to go back in it. But, if you ever stop by the self-care café, on your way out, don’t forget to take an umbrella with you into the storm.