Self-care is an overused word, that’s pretty clear. The term has been so bastardised in popular culture that it almost feels meme-worthy these days. If the term conjures images of bubble baths and face-masks in your head (as it does for me) you’re not far off the mark.
For all of the ways in which self-care is considered frivolous and merely an invention created in the depths of Instagram when carried out in a certain way, it can also be extremely nourishing and restorative.
The trick to making it mean something for you, and function in the way it was intended to, is to find what practices are your form of care. You know how everyone has a different love language in how they express affection and feeling? It’s kind of the same for self-care.
For one person, an act of self-care might be chatting on the phone to a friend. For others, it might include taking a full lunch break and going for a walk after hours of being bound to a computer. Whatever fills your cup back up is your self-care.
Skincare and beauty can also function as an outlet for self-care for many people and carrying out a skincare routine every morning and night is a small way you can spark joy and show yourself some physical and emotional care. For me, this practice is a small ritual I can do that also anchors my day, especially when things outside my control feel a little overwhelming.
The importance of rituals can’t be understated. A study from 2016 found rituals to be critical in “reducing anxiety and improving performance through several mechanisms such as concentration, perceived control, and boosts motivation.”
It might seem farfetched that something as seemingly simple as a skincare routine could help reduce anxiety and boost concentration but it does help to provide a sense of normalcy while also acting as a physical form of care, something many people, including myself, have lacked this year.
“Every day I either, self-perform acupuncture, facial gua sha, massage or moxa (a TCM infrared heat treatment), as this ritual keeps me committed to relieving my body of excess tension and aids the mind and body down a path of healing, which is the ultimate act of beauty,” Sandra Lanshin Chiu, beauty expert and founder of healing studio Treatment by Lanshin, told yahoo!life.
As Jillian Horowitz pointed out in an article for Medium, skincare isn’t all about the end result. The pleasure of the skincare process is also a factor in why people spend large chunks of time layering on serums, oils and creams.
“This particular joy stands alone for many, but often performs a double duty for people for whom skincare may be a substitute for different, more destructive bodily regimens, or for coping with the outside world,” Horowitz wrote. “It’s a series of small actions that make otherwise unmanageable, unlivable lives more livable for the duration we spend standing over the sink.”
When nothing else seems to be sparking joy in your life, your skincare routine can. Taking the time to massage your face, be it with facial tools like gua sha or simply with your hands, is a perfect way to practice self-care.
“The routine, the pleasure, the space to experience that pleasure, and how all of these things give people room to live — that’s the point, and as long as I continue to experience those things through skincare, I’ll use all the sheet masks and Vitamin C serums I want,” Horowitz wrote.
We couldn’t agree more.