Self-care is one of the biggest buzzwords these days.  While its history stems from a medical concept from the 1970's, that later morphed into a political act via the continuing civil and women's rights movements, self-care is now becoming an expected social practice for most hip Americans.

The Pew Research Center found that in 2015, millennials were willing to spend more on self-care than any other generation before them, and have spent 2x more on self-care strategies than baby boomers.

With so many young people engaging in this phenomena of self-care, and thus creating the norms for present and future standard ways of living, I think it's worth asking: What exactly is self-care?

The obvious answer would be “to take care of one's self”, but when I look at this snapshot of today's top #selfcare pics on Instagram, I'm left a little confused.  How does avocado toast, expensive make up, and essential oils equate to self-care?

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If self-care is truly about inviting more restoration and healing into our lives, then here are three strategies to make sure your self-care practice doesn’t become an ego-infused practice of pampering.

1. Self-care is something you mindfully plan, it's not reactive.  When you have a bad day at work and then reactively say you'll do self-care later that night by getting a pint of your favorite ice cream and binge watching Netflix - that's not self-care.   Instead, consider alternatives like sticking to your new year's workout resolution or going to your weekly therapy session as better ways of actually caring for yourself.

2. Self-care makes you check in, not check out.  When you #treatyoself to new make up or another pair of jeans, does it help you to check in or check out? Does it focus more of your attention to what's happening on the outside or inside?  When we focus more on the outside, we avoid checking in which actually perpetuates the cycle of unhealthiness that makes us desperate for real forms of self-care!

3. Self-care isn’t always additive.  Many effective forms of self-care are about reduction and saying no: like not answering emails before bed, not taking calls when you’re with family, or not saying those terrible things you silently say to yourself (that you would never say to anyone else!).  Most self-care enthusiasts on social media don't want to admit this, but reduction is often the most important form of self-care.  Again, what I'm saying isn't sexy or visually worthy enough for your typical #selfcare Instagram post - but it's the #selfcaretruth.

Here’s the bottom line: self-care (like really taking care of yourself) is difficult work!  That’s a huge reason why we avoid doing it and side step the issue by doing deceptively feel good versions of pampering and hedonism instead. 

I know there's a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence so I want to hear from you - What are your self-care strategies?  What's the difference between self-care and faux self-care?  

Let's keep the conversation going and dive in,

Andrew Abaria

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