What is Self-Care All About?

Recently, an abundance of products have emerged, promising to enhance people's quality of life. However, does this truly encapsulate the essence of self-care? Katharina Stenger explains how self-care constitutes a holistic approach to our well-being.

Practicing self-care is not selfish

Nick: So I love how you were able to combine your area of study, professional study, and your profession and tied into ikigai and Eastern psychology and philosophy. And we actually talked about that on episode 26.

Now you have this methodology that, from what I understand, you do use and you gave this incredible presentation. I want to say that from watching your webinar, you were outstanding, you’re an outstanding presenter, and you're very professional, yet thoughtful, engaging, and you seem very comfortable in that role to me.

So if anyone's looking for Rina to do any kind of webinar or workshop in either English and German, just check out the show notes for links and hit her up, and she'll deliver something amazing for you. And that's what she'll do now.

So let's touch on self-care. I think it's important to start with a definition. So how would you define self-care?

Rina: Now, that's the million dollar question. And I asked myself as well, because there is a lot of different information about that. Is it a bubble bath? Is it a walk? Is it pizza? Surely can be. But what is self-care, really? It's hard to grasp this concept between many scientific studies and the hashtag self-care on Instagram.

And what I did, I turned to a dictionary to find answers. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary defines self-care as the practice of taking action to improve or preserve one's own health—was just one definition of many, of course.

But what I see as a bit tricky, is this commercial side of self-care, commercial use of self-care. For example, last week, I walked into the supermarket and I found myself in the health and well-being section where I saw a green smoothie labeled ‘self-care bliss smoothie’, something like that. Like, okay, is this self-care now?

Or a friend of mine, she brought me a facemask like being all gooey and glittery, with the promise of boosting your self-care on the package. And in theory, these are not bad things, it's motivating people to maybe think about self-care a little bit more or even make time or effort to apply facemask or enjoy a smoothie. Though, I have to admit the smoothie was not very good.

But the desire to take better care of our mental well-being and our lifestyle is good, and it's important. But no smoothie can do that for you. That's the thing. You have to be active. So if you follow this #self-care on social media, it doesn't make you more caring about yourself, it can even backfire.

When people get frustrated, they're using some kind of trendy self-care technique they saw on social media and doesn't work, maybe they don't feel any better right away. So they get even more frustrated, or ‘I can't even do self care what's wrong with me?’

So we noticed there's more to self-care than just one definition, and just one hashtag, and just one smoothie, it goes deeper. And it involves our mindset, how we think about the world, how we think about ourselves.

And before we dive a little bit deeper into the connection between ikigai and self-care and how this can all relate and maybe guide you even to improve self-care habits, I want to mention one important thing that I get asked a lot, maybe you had this question as well, Nick; some of my clients, they asked me, isn't it selfish to care for yourself?

Nick: I find it very unusual. But yeah, please go on.

Rina: People are asking about that. And I want to say that I believe it's not generally selfish if you take action to preserve or improve your own health. On the contrary, if you feel healthy, and if you feel in touch with yourself and you have a strong mindset, I think you have even more capacity to support others.

So as long as neither I or those around me are experiencing disadvantage from my self-care routine, I don't see self-care as being selfish. And self-care doesn't have to be accomplished by feelings of joy or other pleasant feelings all the time. It's not about this toxic positivity, which means to force yourself, to always see good things, to always do good things, always believe in the positive things.

It's not unhealthy approach and self-care to suppress everything that gives you unpleasant feelings. Self-care is also about acknowledging the difficulties that you are experiencing and facing in life. And it's about being aware of challenges, of suffering, which is important and effective in order to cope with that. So self-care is not always pleasant, and self-care is not selfish. Those are important things I want to touch on before we dive deeper.