when did self-care turn into a costly chore and how do we get out of that thinking?

It may be millennials who have turned self-care into a billion-dollar industry, but the concept dates way back in time to the Ancient Greeks who saw it as a way to create a more honest society who cared for each other. These days it’s about self, more than other.

Some call it self-preservation, others call it self-love. Call it what you want, but perhaps the biggest misconception around self-care is that it’s an expensive pursuit limited to a select few who can afford pricy products and weekly treatments all in the name of loving themselves. That is consumerism, not self-care, which does not need to involve the consumption of material things.

In this article entitled “How Self-Care became So much Work”, the author, Charlotte Lieberman aptly describes self-care in the age of the internet. She questions if we’re really looking to be healthier and happier when we approach self-care with the same workaholic attitude that we approach work. When we’ve turned the art of self-care into another chore to tick off a never-ending list.

Other pitfalls of modern-day self-care is technology which turns it into an obsession. To get more steps, hit more goals, and get more likes for every step taken and recorded in pursuit of looking after oneself.

Reading it got me thinking. Our April theme has been kindness – kindness to ourselves, those around us and our environments. Part of being kind to oneself is steeped in self-care – looking after yourself. After all, if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after others. One of the things I liked most about the Stress Code and shared here, is how the bulk of solutions offered to better manage stress (self-care) were affordable, doable and practical, no matter where you’re coming from. Can we do self-care without the pomp and ceremony? Can self-care just be quiet moments we give to ourselves?

“There are infinite opportunities for personal growth, self-care, and genuine stress relief that don’t require money or clenched fists, but instead enable us to take a genuine break from goal-oriented and metric-driven thinking.”

Self care can be anything you do for yourself whether it’s a monthly mani, splurging on workout classes you love, taking an afternoon off to sit and read or a pre-bedtime beauty routine. While I’m not against the self-care that involves spend and beauty, some of my best moments of self-care are the moments I don’t document. They’re not reliant on pricy products, Instagram worthy pictures or moments I want to put out there. They’re mine.

But I’m willing to share them with you in the hopes that we’ll stop viewing self-care from a consumerism lense, and start viewing it as something that is in our reach and accessible, no matter where you’re at or how much you have.

Regular exercise – For me exercise is self-care. I like the way it makes me feel and look. I do it 6 days a week and starting my day moving my body and getting my heart rate up, does wonders for my mind, body and soul. Exercise doesn’t have to mean a gym membership. Running is a key part of my exercise routines. It requires a good pair of shoes and a comfy outfit to start.


There are also countless of apps and YouTube workouts for other types of fitness routines, that are free and need only small spaces for you to move (NTC is a favourite).

Bathing – the perks of living in Joburg is that bathing isn’t off limits. There is nothing more soothing especially in winter than a hot bath. Epsom Salts (which you find in the baking aisle) are the best cost-effective addition to soothe sore muscles.

Allowing myself off days – I said regular exercise is a must and it is. But there have been days when I wake up exhausted and sore; and recognise that an hour of extra sleep is more beneficial to me that day than the exercise. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I allow it to be and not let it derail me that day or the next. One day of no exercise won’t make you unfit, in the same way one day of exercise won’t make you fit.

Allowing myself to be where I am – I’ve always had one eye on the present and another on the future. That is until I lost my father and realised that the moments you have right now, you’ll never have again. Losing a parent quickly taught me that I can’t nor should I stop myself from feeling what I feel whenever I feel it. I’ve gone from happy to sad to angry in the span of an hour. I’ve cried at times “you shouldn’t”, been upset on days I needed to get things done and rather than wallow. And I’ve learnt to let myself feel that. I learnt that taking time to acknowledge how I feel and sit it in, is more beneficial and therapeutic to me than burning sage and meditating. I’ve learnt to be more present in where I am and take in good moments instead of looking for what’s ahead. Not all self-care is an pretty picture. Sometimes it’s sitting on a bathroom floor and crying and other times it’s switching your phone off and spending time with the people you love or a good book.

Cook – There’s something you’ll get out of a home cooked meal that you don’t get from eating out or ordering in. For me the process of making a good wholesome meal and sitting down to enjoy it, is the most delicious form of self-love there is. To me it’s a form of showing yourself that what you put in your body is as important as what you put on it; and choosing to nourish it so it can continue working for you.

In the final paragraph of the article, Charlotte says “There are infinite opportunities for personal growth, self-care, and genuine stress relief that don’t require money or clenched fists, but instead enable us to take a genuine break from goal-oriented and metric-driven thinking.”


The above are my self care practices that are devoid of goals, tracking and not reliant on extra purchases. What are yours?

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