Written by Natalie Clark.

In today’s culture of over consumption, brands are jumping at the chance to advertise products in the name of self care, but what exactly is it and how do we ensure we are practicing good self care?

Self care is more than applying the newest Korean beauty face mask, more than taking the must-have healthy hair vitamins. Applying a face mask may make your skin feel good but that does not necessarily mean it will make you feel good. With all the messages and advertisements from brands showing the notion of self care as treating ourselves to the latest beauty products, is the true meaning of self care becoming obscured?

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What is self care?

Practising good self care is crucial for our welfare, the British Medical Association defines self care as ‘putting people in control of their own health and well-being, it involves the things individuals can do to protect their health’. We need to take a holistic view when it comes to self care, including both our physical and mental health. Mind, a UK based mental health charity, detail how ‘look[ing] after your physical health can help you manage your mental health too.’

How to practice good self care

Self care is different for all of us, there is not one set rule to follow that will relieve your low mood and improve your mental health. We need to look and connect to ourselves and listen to our bodies to determine what we need. However, there are steps that we can follow to attempt to improve our well-being and mental health. Establishing a healthy lifestyle may relieve mental health by investing time into yourself, your head, heart and general physical health. Self care is prioritising your own welfare and happiness, which can be difficult to do in today’s constant on the go culture, with busy working schedules including long hours and high stress, it’s becoming hard to make time for the things that we truly enjoy. But if we do, we will reap the benefits.

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Doing what is right for you

Blurt it out, a UK based Social Enterprise dedicated to helping those affected by depression, discuss the importance of self care but also the difficulty to practice and maintain good self care. Blurt it out reinforce the need for self care, discussing that ‘[it] is what nourishes us personally: the things we do that comfort us, calm us, and make us feel good. These will vary from person to person – you might be drawn to creative activities, physical pursuits, mindfulness techniques or something different altogether.’

Self care is all relative to the individual but there are some activities that may aid in improving mental and physical health. If enjoying a soak in the bath improves your mood and relieves your stress, then take that bath, apply your face mask and take that essential time to relax and recuperate. Enjoying a bath and reading a book before bed are effective ways to de-stress and may improve your night’s sleep. Recurring poor night’s sleep can have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health.

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It’s easy to slip into a cooking rut, but look for new recipes to try, there are lots of free recipes online. Invite your friends around and cook for them, or ask them to join in. Spending time socialising with the people you love can improve your mood and your mental health. Whilst eating healthy foods can also contribute to a healthy and happy life, improving both physical and mental health.

Importance of self care

Taking care of ourselves and our needs is important, not selfish. Challenge yourself to make positive changes but most importantly, look after yourself.

For more information on mental health, please visit Mind.org and Blurtitout.org for guidance on mental health and well-being.