When someone says the word “pampering,” what do you think?
When I think of pampering, I think of little details, extravagance, and luxury. I think of things that are a big deal, needless things like rose petals on my sheets and pillow, soft luxurious fabrics, and exotically scented lotions that cost more than a week’s worth of my favorite Starbucks chai lattes. I imagine being treated like a queen, getting whatever I want, and everyone being happy to indulge my slightest whim. Oh yes, and chocolate. To me it’s just not pampering if I don’t get some really good dark chocolate. And wine.
Maybe my ideas of pampering are a bit grander than yours. Maybe you think of the simpler pleasures of manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. Maybe you think of having the house to yourself and taking a nice long bath. Maybe going to a weekly yoga class feels like pampering yourself.
So if all of that stuff is pampering, what exactly is self-care?
To some people, self-care is an unknown concept; they’re too busy taking care of everyone else to worry about themselves. The biggest problem with this strategy is that their well will eventually dry up, and then what? Their body, mind, &/or spirit will force them to take a rest… usually in the form of some sort of physical, mental, or spiritual illness.
To others, self-care is just another thing on their to do list and it pretty much covers the basics: Get enough sleep, eat regular meals, go to the chiropractor or massage therapist when their back or neck hurts, de-stress with the adult beverage of their choice on the weekend.
To me, self care means taking care of my body so that it can stand up to the rigors of a physical job 6 days a week. It means feeding my body healthy food (most of the time), but it also means feeding my spirit with a piece of chocolate, a cannoli, or one of the divine homemade galettes from the artisan bakery down the street. (Seriously. There is so much fresh fruit in those things, and no syrupy glaze. Mmmmm.) It means taking time to stretch and meditate each day. It means getting a massage or chiropractic adjustment before I’m hurting. It means letting the dishes pile up after dinner if the thought of doing the dishes stresses me out more than having a pile of dirty dishes in my kitchen does. It means making sure I get enough ‘me time,’ which is very important for an introvert since that’s how we get our energy. (Going out and being in a crowd generally depletes my energy, even when I have fun.) It means feeding my soul with music on a regular basis. It means taking some time to wind down and chill out for 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Not that I’m spectacular at doing all of this 100% of the time, but I always make the effort. Or at least I mean to.
If you’re like everyone else, you make some sort of distinction between pampering and self-care. You draw a line in the sand and whatever is deemed pampering must only be indulged in on special occasions or as an extra special treat. But sometimes, the lines blur. Sometimes pampering actually crosses into the realm of self-care. What do you then? How do you justify pampering, even when you know it’s good for you? Maybe it’s time for a new definition of self-care. A more realistic definition.
Every article about self-care I’ve ever seen includes a list of self-care activities as a way of defining the term; much like I did above. But everyone’s different, so when defined this way there are as many definitions as there are people. That’s not a very good definition.
I propose changing the definition to include a list of how something makes you feel and how it positively impacts your life. Because there are varying levels of self-care, I think it should attempt to include them all.
In that vein, you know it’s self-care if:
Now I’d like to hear from you. How do you define self-care? Let me know in the comments below.