Candles, wine, bubble baths, face masks, and a vegan Charcuterie Board, this was my version of self-care. I’d drown my sorrows, career frustrations, the pandemic, and everything else in a 5 step self-care regimen that spoke to me.
I was part of the #Selfcare on Social media without realizing that this was another quick fix, an instant gratification move by capitalism that had gotten me thinking that a bubble bath will fix my problems. In my mind, spending time obsessing about a different face mask and the right dry wine, was all the self-care there was, after all, wasn’t everybody doing the same on the gram?
This was my own 5 step self-care routine:
Every Sunday, I’d wake up at around 9.00 a.m. EAT, and this would be my routine and approximate costs.
- A cup of coffee- Ksh.350 (more expensive than the usual because I’m a vegan hence plant milk instead of the usual milk.)
- A long bath, coupled up with a face mask, I’d change depending on my mood this roughly costs Ksh.500.
- Sparkling wine -Ksh.1,250
- Pizza with extra topping -Ksh.1,200
In my honest opinion, all this makes sense, taking time out to relax and enjoy life is important. The big question for me is how do we practice self-care? Does self-care come with a manual; what does self-care mean and look like?
After being influenced by these questions, I took a trip down good old Google to learn a little bit more and this is what I found.
Self–care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care is key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with one’s self and others. To unpack this, self-care is basically taking care of all elements of one’s self. It has no rules to it, one is required to do as they please.
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health.~Raphailia Michael MA
Going back to my routine, I realised that I was, first of all, keeping up with the Joneses, two, I did not have a proper idea of what self-care was hence was not taking care of myself. The other lesson that I got from this, was that I was spending money on stuff I did not need. So In hindsight, I was spending Ksh. 3200 Kenya shillings every Sunday on a self-care routine. Allow me to unpack this for you. If multiplied by 4, my self-care expenditure summed up to Ksh.6800.What was I thinking?
I was out here spiralling out of control, Spending like the rich man, yet I was Lazarus! If this isn’t shocking enough, the amount spent every weekend wouldn’t be inclusive of other expenses like transport that I would incur during the same week. I was digging a hole all by myself, spending money on liabilities; a habit that would affect me in the long run. To paint a bigger picture, if I carried on with this habit I’d never fulfill my dream of retiring by the beach. The other insight I got from this, was that even though I was investing a lot into my self-care routine, I was having a hard time relaxing as my finances were not in order.
From my analysis, I came to the conclusion that spending money isn’t self-care. Spending money and feeling good aren’t intrinsically linked. While research shows that spending money on experiences makes us happier than buying physical objects (exceptions include books, i.e., experiential objects), we’ve found no comprehensive research to prove that money makes you happy. People who value time over money have been proven to be the happiest among us. A recent income satiation study from 2018 found that a certain level of income ($105,000 in North America) was the optimal level of income to be happy — and questions the notion that more money equals more happiness.
So how do we redefine self-care? After all, we can’t simply wash away our problems and stress with a new bubble bath product. Maybe the new goal for 2021 self-care should look different than it does today: balance your bank account, create a manageable plan to pay off debts, open a line of credit for the first time, listen to a financial podcast to learn more about your money, be aware and in touch with our finances, understand the potential and limits we’re working with. Financial wellness is the new goal to strive towards.
“If you’re in a position to revamp your financial wellness, it’s definitely a worthy endeavour,” Anna Borges, author of The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care, Financial self-care isn’t about your net worth, but about taking control of your financial knowledge and, if possible, the financial situation. Stress and anxiety about money may never disappear but if I’m being totally honest, being at the top of one’s finances alleviates stress and pressure, which in itself makes room for proper relaxation.
Isn’t this the self-care we should all aim for? I obviously had to change my #Self Care regimen from the 5 steps to just 2 or sometimes one. In recent weeks, I have found myself more relaxed after having my money date, which are monthly financial days when I take time out to look into my finances and have proper financial housekeeping. This and of course Dave Ramsey’s baby steps have been key in my investing in long-term happiness.