What does true self-care look like, anyway?

(Or, why I’m over all the ‘candlelit bath’ pics on IG.)

My definition of self-care is kind of controversial.

To me, it’s not taking baths filled with flowers or surrounded by candles and crystals.

Person with light skin in a bathtub full of flowers and a random scrap of sheet music
Anyone else immediately think of the massive level of cleanup this will take? NOT relaxing.

Self-care is not exercising, especially for the purpose of changing your body to look more acceptable according to society’s harmful beauty standards. Self-care isn’t drinking water, or eating veggies, or even getting a massage.

It’s certainly not “adulting” — paying bills, cleaning the bathroom, getting groceries, managing childcare. Self-care couldn’t be further from adulting.

Person looking at their phone in front of a laptop
Sorry, opinionated health & fitness influencers: paying bills is not actually self-care.

TRUE self-care is allowing yourself to be exactly who you are right now.

It’s never an item that needs to go on your to-do list. It’s something that happens in the moment. And it can look so many different ways:

⭐ Canceling plans.
⭐ No longer participating in stuff that doesn’t interest you.
⭐ Choosing to see your own way of being as acceptable and OK with you.
⭐ Using your voice. No longer silencing yourself to make others comfortable.
⭐ Recognizing that your own truths are more important than what anyone else says about their experience of you.
⭐ Being open to the deeper medicine and teachings of your anger, fear, hurt, guilt, and sadness.
⭐ Refusing to let someone try to gaslight you.
⭐ Not rushing.
⭐ Refusing to let YOUR flexibility be the one critical element making it possible for your partner, family, or crappy friend to spend time with you.
⭐ Recognizing that others’ mistreatment of you is only EVER about them and never about you.
⭐ Remembering that the only wounded one you can heal is your own self.

Person with shoulder-length brown hair and a blue & white striped shirt standing outside on a rooftop, looking at the camera
True self-care is allowing yourself to be exactly who you are RIGHT NOW.

You know what? If you’re a sea witch, maybe taking a bath surrounded by candles and crystals DOES help you be your true self exactly as you are right now. ????

But for us mere mortals, sometimes we just need a shift in perspective. And if someone else’s definition of self-care (including mine!) doesn’t feel correct for you, rest in the inner knowing that you don’t have to take it on board.

— Meghan, the Vaginismus Coach


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