How to Do Self Care Differently - Foundry Personal Training Gyms

How to Do Self Care Differently

In the last five years, Google searches for “self care” have almost tripled, while over 66 million Instagram posts include the #selfcare hashtag. And commercialisation has jumped on the bandwagon, with the self-care industry valued at $11 billion last year. From wellness apps to hundred-pound facemasks, there’s no end to the self-care solutions available for purchase – and we can’t get enough.

But is the self care phenomenon just a fleeting fad, or is there genuine value in it? And is the tide of social media hype more harmful than helpful when it comes to finding a version of self care that works for us?

At its most basic level, self care is the individual responsibility we take in making daily choices about our lifestyles. But there are some toxic traps that we can fall into, enabling unhelpful habits and sabotaging our efforts for wellbeing. 

What self care ISN’T

Firstly, it’s not about surrendering to every impulse that crosses our minds. We need to distinguish between self enablement (allowing ourselves to fall into maladaptive habits because they feel ‘good’ or ‘easy’) – and deliberate actions to improve our mental, physical, or emotional health. 

Take ‘bed rotting’: the ‘self care’ trend that involves staying in bed all day to do things like scroll through social media or watch Netflix for eight hours straight. Or binge eating: after a day of counting calories, it can feel like self-care to plough your way through a Deliveroo, an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of red wine – but it’s probably not. 

And while self-care is about setting boundaries and making sure your needs get met, there’s a version of it on social media that is basically a golden ticket to do all the destructive things we’d usually avoid. It’s not just about being indiscriminately selfish. The original idea was to care for yourself so you can better care for your community; to fill your own cup, so you can help others fill theirs. But the growing trend towards individualism has made self care a symptom of the thinking that everyone else’s needs are a constant threat to your own self-improvement.

Finally, we need to avoid the temptation to make self care a competitive sport. Millennials are now being dubbed ‘The Burnout Generation’, running to social media to shout about how much time we’re taking to indulge in beauty treatments as a reward for working ourselves into the ground. All the while, the aspirational branding side of the online world is telling us that if only we think good thoughts, positive things will happen. And corporations and mainstream media have jumped on the fad to sell us more stuff we don’t need. 

How to do self care the right way

So, how do we approach self-care in a meaningful way? Here are some thoughts. 

Think consequences

Trying to work out if something is self care or just an excuse to indulge in unhelpful behaviours? Ask yourself: will this set me up for a better tomorrow? Or, how will this affect me tomorrow? These questions should help you figure out very quickly if the form of self care you want to indulge in is actually self care, or destructive. If it will set you up for a better tomorrow, you aren’t indulging yourself – you’re empowering yourself.

Be proactive

Another huge thing we’re doing wrong is expecting self care to be a silver bullet for all our issues, when we’re already in a bad place. Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to prioritise your wellbeing. Incorporate it into your routine even when things are going well, being proactive about building healthy habits and developing resilience – rather than waiting for the sh*t to hit the fan, and reacting by spending the day in bed. 

Hold boundaries, but understand reciprocity

Being a ‘yes person’ will almost always get in the way of healthy self care. We need to know how to say no and hold our boundaries, even if it feels uncomfortable. For example, if one of our members is booked into a Small Group Personal Training session, we’d always encourage them to attend – even if their partner’s complaining about the housework, or there’s work left undone for their boss. We need to uphold our non-negotiables. 

But on the flip side, we need to be wary that we don’t fall into the trap where every relationship in our lives becomes transactional. It’s easy to hyperfocus on how the people in our lives are serving us, and cutting them off or shutting them down the minute they seem to desire anything in return.

Have realistic expectations

Effective self care starts with an understanding of what you’re trying to achieve; then choose an activity that fits that need. If you’ve been hectic at work and have eaten fast food three times in a week, a Sunday afternoon spent meal prepping (or checking out a food prep service like The Good Prep) might be an investment in your wellbeing. If you haven’t made time for exercise recently, signing up to our 21-Day Challenge and sticking to two SGPT sessions and two group sessions a week might be just what the doctor ordered. There’s a catch, though: we need to avoid treating self care as just another item on your to-do list. The aim is to avoid burnout, not perpetuate a culture of constant hustling.

Consider physical first

When it comes down to it, humans are animals. If we start by addressing our physical needs first, this has a positive knock-on effect on our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. As well as the basics like showering and our brushing teeth, we also need to eat nutritiously and find a version of regular exercise that works with our routine. This works best if you can book this in and schedule it in advance so it’s a constant, whatever else is going on in life. 

Make it personal

A lie in on Sunday morning might be self care for you; but for me, it might be going for a cycle ride with the kids. Find what recharges your batteries (by experimenting) and do more of that. Someone who’s more extroverted, for example, might find going to a friend’s house party energising and relaxing. For the more introverted among us, an afternoon spent gardening or going for a long walk in the country might be more fulfilling. And what’s self care one week might not be self care the next – your needs will change depending on where you’re at and what else you’ve got on. 

Be consistent (but flexible)

Self care is most important when things aren’t going to plan. It’s easy to focus on your wellbeing when the path is rosy and you’ve got a good routine going. But what about when things take a turn for the worse? Or even when you break your routine and go on holiday? Or have a baby?  A new job? 

We need to have flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, not fall apart at the first interruption to our routine. Yes, self care is about establishing good habits: but it’s also about taking an attitude to life that’s rooted in a foundation of knowing we deserve time and effort for ourselves. Sometimes we’ll need to put in a hard couple of weeks (or months) at work without complaint – but we also need to counter this with some proper time off to recharge and recover. 

At Foundry, we believe that self care starts with our Four Pillars of Wellbeing: Eat, Move, Think, and Belong.

Everyone has different challenges in life. At Foundry, our mission is to help you overcome them, and grow a little bit stronger, every day. 

Our 21-Day Challenge is about challenging yourself to finding the strength you didn’t know you had – challenging yourself to try something new and put yourself first. 

And to challenge us, too – to see if we can meet your expectations and help you find the version of yourself you want to become. 

You can find out more here.


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