This week’s guest post is by a fellow dietitian, Emily Opthof, all about how to actually do self-care. It doesn’t need to be spending hundreds on a spa day or filling up on wine after work Friday night. Finding time for ourselves is hard. It’s easy to say we’ll doing it, but when we come face-to-face for what is supposed to be our self-care time, we usually find 10 other things we should be doing instead. Ready to develop a plan you can and will stick to? Let’s do this!
It’s been written in the media before, and I won’t even try to claim a monopoly on noticing it as an issue, but it’s out there: self-care isn’t always inclusive to everyone.
Self-Care in the Media
As a proud (and continuously learning) intersectional feminist, I think it’s important to address that not everyone in the modern world is actually able to access the more commonly thought-of self-care movement. In fact, self-care seems to be quite limited in representation when you see it in media.
For example, if you checked out the Instagram popular page for the world of yoga or fitness, financially well, thin, Caucasian woman are often most represented. You don’t often see people of color, people who live in larger bodies, people of lower socioeconomic status, men or folks from the LGBTQ+ community. What makes me happy is that these are slowly growing as new groups in the self-care community!
When we use images that don’t represent a more diverse community, we create a divide. It creates the perception that self-care is not available to people not in a particular sect of society or that they are not welcome in self-care spaces. There’s plenty of stories out there of people of colour being mistaken for the help at a yoga studio, or larger bodied individuals feeling harassed or bullied in gyms, but I won’t regurgitate all of them.
And I think we use more capitalist versions of what self-care can look like. Buy a new face mask, or visit a fancy yoga studio, or buy a new food from a fancy coffee shop. Naturally, there are non-capitalist self-care practices as well but we might not see them as often in marketing, like going for a walk, or getting to bed at a decent time, or finally being able to pay off a bill that’s been stressing you out.
The most important part of self-care is its value in reducing stress and being gentle with a body and spirit.
It’s unfortunate that we don’t see the ways we are able to do this without buying into a particular image. And the bottom line is that we don’t hear and see enough of all kinds of folks practicing their self-care to know how it can be different and unique.
How Self Care Looks for Me
My self-care routine is trying to get enough sleep, drink enough water, read a non-work related book in my free time, and occasionally a nice bath with whatever essential oil stuff I have on hand. I enjoy a glass of wine here and there but in general don’t choose alcohol as a beverage, especially when I’m stressed or need to unwind.
I also try to keep my environment teeming with supportive energy and individuals, whether this is my friend group, my home environment or my social media accounts. I figure these are places I interact with others most often (although I have been mindful to take breaks from the Internet), and I want them to support both self-care for myself and the bigger picture of supporting diverse, intersectional, [non-capitalist if possible] self-care.
Here are my top 5 favorite, non-traditional health and self-care Instagram accounts to fill your feed:
- @meg.boggs – an AMAZING mum, writer, and powerlifter and an advocate for postpartum mums & body love
- @mypaleskinblog – her #redefinepretty movement is amazing, and her advocacy for skin positivity makes me so happy
- @spoonfulofmelanin – “Five DC dietitians w/ one thing in common… MELANIN”. YES is all I have to say
- @avocadofordays – one of my favourite male RD accounts, and his approach to healing relationships with food is awesome (also supports identifying preferred gender pronouns, or PGPs, which is a big YAY)
- @thefashionfitnessfoodie – basically the most hilarious and realistic wellness blogger in the game (all the food myth-busting), and her cookbook “Nobs Cookbook” is on my wish list
And of course, I am always looking for more! If you have your own favourites, please share!
How do YOU self-care? Leave it below!
Emily Opthof is a Registered Dietitian practicing in Ontario, Canada. She has a passion for figure skating nutrition (17 years on the ice and counting!), digestive health and weight-inclusive wellness counselling. She is the author of the upcoming book The Nourish Flex Plan and has run the Say Yes to Nourish blog for 5 years. When she’s not looking for snackies, Emily is binge watching Sailor Moon, hanging out in downward dog or gardening.
Instagram: @emthefoodieContact: firstname.lastname@example.org