In recent years, I feel as though the phrase "self-care" has become lost in a perceivably superficial blur of overpriced fingernail polishes and facemasks, countless pints of Chunky Monkey and seemingly never-ending Grey's Anatomy marathons. Moreover, (admittedly after trying out a couple of these techniques myself) I find that most "self-care" activities don't really have an impact on my wellbeing or mental health. In fact, they can sometimes actually make me feel worse about myself, as I feel lazy or unaccomplished when I finally decide to log out of Netflix for the night.
Rather, I believe that "self-care" involves the act of engaging oneself in something that allows them to temporarily "escape" their responsibilities and everyday life-something that helps you clear your mind and take a step back from whatever's been consuming your thoughts all day.
Of course, this means something different for everyone. For example, when I take time out of the busy work week for the purpose of "self-care", I tend to go to the gym, turn up the music, and hit the treadmill for an hour or so. I find it to be a great way to release all of whatever energy I've built up sitting at my desk sending emails all day, and to let go of whatever's been stressing me out in a healthy, natural way. Plus, it's a great excuse to do nothing but listen to music and reflect on life for a whole hour.
Another thing I love to do as an act of "self-care" is doing laundry. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but during the week, I often have to do my laundry in shifts. Monday, sort; Tuesday, darks; (maybe) Wednesday, lights; (an even slimmer chance than Wednesday) Thursday; whites. It's a tiring process, and most days I really don't fancy the idea of coming home after a long day at work to do a whole pile of laundry. But, when I do have the time to do all my laundry at once, I find it to be oddly relaxing. Oftentimes I turn on music, and (normally it's a Sunday morning) mentally prepare myself for the week ahead. I review everything I have to do for the next day, and then plan out how I'll get it all done, and then move onto Tuesday, and so on, and so on. It's refreshing, and gives me a chance to "de-stress before the stress", if that makes sense.
Yet, I do still enjoy a good Netflix binge-watching session every once in awhile (accompanied by a ton of blankets and Ben & Jerry's, of course). And hey, if that's what takes your mind off things and helps you escape from life for a bit, then by all means go for it.
Just remember that "self-care" should never feel like a chore, or something that makes you feel lazy and gross afterwards. It should be the opposite, and not generate any worry about productivity or progress or anything at all, really.
So go out there and take back your "self-care" time. You deserve it, after all.