Lately something that we all thought was simple common sense has become fashionable, overrated and social media newsfeeds are full of filtered Instagram poses, hashtags for self-care selfie Saturday and Sunday. Since when did it become a competition to demonstrate how many crystals are placed strategically around the bed, the house has been saged to oblivion, hours of yoga and meditation crammed in before work, and rushing to fit in indulgent beauty treatments is the reward for working ourselves into the ground.
But have you noticed it’s not working? All this self-care is supposed to make you feel good?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-care believer, it’s the basis of Ayurveda, the epitome of self-care. But there’s a difference between self-care and overdoing it because you “should” be making time for it and have to fit it all in just to be perfect. Something is amiss, so I’m here to iron out a few things.
Why are we still stressed, anxious, and mental health issues amongst young people continue to rise and millennials are dubbed as the “Burnout Generation”?
The irony is that self-care is becoming a source of stress in itself. Holding ourselves to unachievable standards, comparisons, perfectionism, so many picture-perfect cookie-cutter social media people telling us how to be just like them.
But labeling something as self-care but doing it in a stressed-out way is about as helpful as eating ten 50% less sugar cakes because they are advertised as the healthy option then wondering why you feel blergh inside afterwards.
This Insta-social-media version of self-care we are seeing around us is a wolf in self-care’s clothing.
I see some clients stress over following my Lifestyle Plans and the included daily self-care routine – it becomes a task list to tick off rather than enjoy. Forcing, pursuing perfectionism, stressing and hyperfocus are counterintuitive.
It over-stimulates us and sends our Vata totally out of balance. It’s great to want to do things right, but actual gentle self-care done with ease is the objective which grounds our Vata to reap the benefits so that self-care has the space to actually do its thing – nourish, revitalize, recharge, and benefit you.
Implementing true self-care practices is a step-by-step process in your life – baby steps – not burning yourself out with a heap of stress-invoking shoulds! Changing our lifestyle takes commitment but not the stressed-out kind. We are so determined, hardworking, almost addicted to stress in the western world, it’s an understandable mistake to make and not even realize it.
True self-care is a natural flow of rituals that make us feel better which equals balance, stress reduction, and prevents sickness. We have to use our common sense instead of getting dragged along with fashions or falling foul to likes, follows, and friend requests.
We have to understand why we do these self-care rituals. Why do we want to take care of ourselves? To feel better and healthier to live a fulfilled and happy life? Something along those lines, am I right?
The best way to achieve this is to live in tune and in sync with nature’s flow. This, my friends, is Ayurveda, aka ancient self-care.
So, let’s talk Ayurveda. We are most healthy and vibrant when we live according to nature’s clock. Some might think that means getting up early requires military-style discipline or jolting ourselves awake with the most unpleasant jarring alarm at 5:30 a.m. for cleansing and movement rituals.
In reality, when you live in the flow of nature as Ayurveda suggests, going to bed by 10 p.m. your morning wake-up happens naturally because you had a good evening routine the night before. After sleeping well, as a new day starts, you feel in tune with the sun rising and the dawn chorus of bird song. It happens with ease – nobody cracking a whip or feelings of dread in sight.
I have seen it so many times in my coaching clients and working many years at a Yoga and Health Retreat center here on Koh Phangan – they sync into nature’s flow and routine with simple self-care, suddenly their sleep becomes better, constipation transforms into a daily bowel movement, their belly finally becomes flat (not bloated), the mind calms down, they become grounded, and they smile more.
The Ayurvedic Dinacharya (daily routine) has been followed by Ayurvedic practitioners (the Vadyas) for thousands of years, teaching that works because I see the evidence all the time. This, my friends, is the effect of genuine self-care, in the flow and cycle of nature, the essence of Ayurveda.
To be honest, every client or student in my experience over the past 8 years living against nature’s clock is never truly happy and healthy. Living out of sync with circadian rhythms, without Ayurvedic self-care practices is congruent with weight gain, obesity, indigestion, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, respiratory disorders, stomach ulcers, depression, anxiety, insomnia. The list can go on… Do any of these hit close to home for you?
Just remember, a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle aims to create joy not stress. And this is true self-care. Do what feels good to you and work according to your Dosha, consider the season and do less rather than over do because as I’ve already said, countless unmindful self-care practices create exhaustion, the activities lose their fun and you get the opposite of what you need.
Finally, if you take anything from this, here is my advice:
- Give yourself grace if you don’t do everything in your self-care routine.
- It’s perfectly fine to do just one simple thing.
- Always check-in what your Dosha needs the most to stay balanced.
- Enjoy self-care in a healthy, gentle, natural way.
Have you been practicing self-care but you can’t put your finger on what you’re missing?
Are you struggling to find a healthy self-care practice which suits you?
Are all the self-care practices out there overwhelming and you’re not sure what’s right for you? Let’s have a chat!