When Beauty Care Isn't Self-Care

I love to read articles about cheering yourself up when you are down in the dumps. You know, the ones titled "10 things to do when you are feeling blue" or something like that. Usually the first piece of advice goes something like this: "Pamper yourself! Have a mini-spa in your bathroom! Give yourself a face mask, a pedicure, scrub your skin..." This makes me feel uncomfortable because I feel like I am supposed to find this fun. Because I don't. I don't particularly enjoy applying face masks or washing them off. I find exfoliating neutral at best, and doing my toe nails is a drag. I don't feel pampered after doing most of my beauty treatments, whether it's hair or skin or makeup, I feel the same kind of satisfaction that I get after thoroughly cleaning my kitchen. In short, I'm doing it for the results.

When I'm "feeling blue" I prefer to draw myself a bath and soak there for an hour, because doing nothing at all is actually really nice. Or eat really really good cheesecake in my favourite café. Or read a really nice blog. Or look through photographs from a couple of years back, because of the ones with my kids doing the funniest things as toddlers. Now that I look at it, I do things that aren't result-oriented and take very little effort. They leave me feeling rested and calmer.

Now I realise this is a slippery slope. First, there is a fine line between self-care and activities that are numbing or avoiding or even harmful that masquerade as "self-care". Secondly, there are things that come definitely into the realm of self-care that aren't fun, but have amazing results -- meditating, physical movement when you really don't feel like it, making plans to meet friends and then actually dragging yourself out of the house on a dark and stormy evening. However these things, make me feel really amazing afterwards. And the key word here is feel. Not look. Meditating every day for a week gives me leaving much more centered and a bit more serene (and, by extension, happier) in a way that a thousand face masks won't. And face-masks don't have to fulfill those kinds of expectations. They are for the skin, not for the mind and the self.
And that is why, when I'm feeling blue I'd much rather make the effort of meditating. Or, if I can't even put enough will and energy for even that, I'll settle for an hour in the bathtub, sans face mask.
Photo credit: Photo by Karla Alexander

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