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Taking Care of Yourself Isn’t Overrated

  • By Jen Duchene, YourTango
  • March 07, 2014

woman relaxing

Self care seems to be a buzzword for women looking to find the strength to "bounce back" and re-energize themselves. No matter the circumstances, when you're on overload, fraying, swaying or just all fired up from adrenaline, most experts suggest taking some time to pamper yourself.

A little well-deserved R&R sounds easy, right? Yet if essential ingredients are missing, pampering merely skims the surface, instead of sinking into our bones with some real healing power. Essentially, it doesn't serve its purpose. And truthfully, our perception of pampering is a bit of a myth: We tend to think of it as going only skin deep. Now, indulging our senses by putting on the right shade of lipstick does work wonders. It adds color, brightens energy and puts you in touch with your body for a fleeting moment. And it is necessary, because self care is about the body. So what is the problem with calling a pedicure or a shopping spree adequate "self care"?

"Spoiling" yourself (which, by the way, is an ironic word for the act of taking care of ourselves) requires three crucial elements to be effective and have a lasting positive impact. The first element is awareness. When you apply that new shade of lipstick, are you paying attention to what it means? Or is it more of the "splash of color, splash of scent and dash out the door" mentality? Maybe you feel guilty for devoting a few extra minutes to yourself. There is an integral part of our culture that has consistently downplayed a woman's deep seated need to take care of herself.

The world of beauty is a multi million dollar industry; there are so many products made to ensure "insta-gorgeous". But there is also, frustratingly, a hugely negative message that insists a woman is shallow or self centered when she spends time taking care of herself and her appearance. And for many women, resentment has built up over the years. Why is this? As much as we say beauty is only skin deep, our society constantly rewards people for looking good — not feeling good. This is a huge conundrum that has women afraid to peek beneath their own skin, as well as simultaneously required and afraid to devote time to their appearance. Essentially, their moments of primping are devoted to pleasing, rather than for pleasure.

The act of pampering may be wrapped up to look like a luxury beyond your means (think elaborate spa days), but it is actually an essential you can't afford to go without. Unconvinced? Let me explain. Your body is your earthly container, without which you could not enjoy the pleasures of dancing, eating, hugging, or having sex. However, habitually for many women, the body serves merely an end to a means: getting thinner, fitter or being the always-willing go-to girl. There is a detrimental demand cycle that happens between you and your body. Do you take your vessel for granted? Take a baby step forward by honoring your body with a day of rest (and pampering!) when exhaustion begins to surface, rather than pushing through the refusal to be weak.

This brings us to the second essential element of true pampering. 

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Tagged in: Inspiration, Live, YourTango