There is a lot of talk about self-care these days. I totally agree with the 'put your oxygen mask on first' matra; however, is self-care becoming an excuse for self-absorption and interacting less with people and even our families? Is the commericalisation of self-care within the wellness industry distracting us from self-care opportunities that are so vital for ourselves and communities?
My husband says I'm at my happiest when I'm regularly volunteering in the refugee sector. Reflecting on that, he makes a good point. Once a week I help a refugee learn how to ride a bike and for two hours every Thursday I support a group of refugees practicing yoga. Yes, there are times when I feel a bit of pressure juggling those along with other areas of my life, but I'd argue volunteering is an act of self-care better equipping my body, mind and spirit to show up more fully with life's obligations. Working 10 hour days with a toddler, I found a way to bring him with me when I taught English to a refugee. Trust me when I say that was self-care.
Don't get me wrong, I love my alone time. No one has as much fun with me as I have with myself. Not arrogant, slightly pathetic, but true. I loved living on my own in my studio flat and travelling alone has always been one of my favourite pastimes. The benefits, though, of social interaction has been proven again and again as a positive influence on mental health and longevity.
Now, instead of making more time for myself, I have a few local friends here and there with whom I meet up regularly for a walk in our local woodlands. That is self-care. Also, instead of blowing off social engagements for some alone time, which I was guilty of in the past, the wellness space has filled the gap in combining wellness with social time.
Grab a friend on Friday night and head over to the Frankincense Store in Nottinghill for an interesting workshop followed by a vegan dinner at The Farmacy. Or join one of Pause Place's evening events where we have the space to pause and get quiet together.
My point is, the more the self-care drum beats, don't mistake it for more retreats and bubble baths (though I'm not saying remove those from the equation). Just don't let it distract you from the fact that giving and interacting are also forms of self-care.