Open up Instagram on a Sunday night and there will be a deluge of ‘Self Care’ photos popping up on your feed. If it’s not influencers smothering themselves in liquid gold facials or smearing fish eggs on their vulvas is it even self care? There isn’t a piece of the internet that doesn’t see people delving into baths with their £150 candle smelling of fox essence burning brightly whilst they take twenty photos of their lavender bushes propped up on diamond bath trays under the guise of ‘loving yourself’. Self care has become synonymous with wealth and having the money and time to be fucked to InstaLive it.
Gone are the relatable posts about life and love and in there place luxury and extravagance. But are you even a millennial if you aren’t struggling to pay for avocado let alone forgo your daily coffee so that you can smear vampire blood over your perineum? Realistically, most of us can’t afford these levels of self care, even a bath bomb on Valentine’s Day feels a bit bourgeois when our mortgage advisors keep laughing at us when we say we want to buy a studio hovel by the time we’re 40. We are skint, overworked and the exact type of people who should be spending time looking after ourselves, but how? Here are my 5 self care hacks for the perpetually poor (and out lacking in time).
For Teeth that Shine like the Centre of the Sun
If you have ever struggled with your mental health then you will know that even doing the basic day-to-day tasks is a struggle. Slathering treatments on whilst lounging in a bath sounds nice if you can find a crane, five carers and a stand in parent who can run the hot water for you. When I was at university and full-blown committed to my anorexia, I lacked the energy or purpose to get out of bed most days. I liked to lay partially existing in 3 week old bed linen whilst watching re runs of Jeremy Kyle until I passed out. Consequently, when I returned home 2 years later, my Mum made me rejoin the dentist (because Mum knowledge) where they found I had two severely rotting Incisors and a bill for £800 for some root canals. Brushing my teeth just wasn’t the one when I could barely comprehend why Jeremy Kyle was so vexed on the daily.
Since then I make it my goal to brush my teeth at least once a day. I aim for two, and if I am feeling fresh and sparkly three times. All I know is that in the long run I feel better if I brush my teeth morning and night, even if my bed sheets still smell of last months fake tan session.
Do Not Disturb
The first thing that goes when I am feeling stressed, anxious, like my life is going to implode, is my sleep. Suddenly I am the most proactive little bean at 1am. Only if by proactive you mean laying wide awake and recalling what an absolute melon I am over and over on a sadistic loop. Once in that pattern, it feels nigh on impossible to snap out of it. Might as well buy myself a hamster wheel and assume my nocturnal identity as Gertrude the Gerbil. Alternatively, my body sometimes does that glorious thing of making me super tired but only when I desperately want to be somewhere or do something. Day off, let’s have you awake until 8am thinking about that time you kissed a man on his ear lobe by accident. Got an important date or trip of a life time? Nah, let’s make you feel like your eye lids are made of solid lead and your body a blob of 10 day old porridge.
Whilst you could spend your month’s rent on Lavender scented linen sprays or room odourisers carved into the shape of 2000 sheep with a million soothing twinkle lights. The simple methods have always been the best ones for me. Buy an alarm clock, charge your phone in a different room, don’t nap and use a herbal remedy if it is safe to do so. It doesn’t always work first time, but occasionally my body stops fighting me and I finally get some kip.
One Caffeine Induced Anxiety Attack of Two?
When I began therapy for my BED I used to get the most crippling anxiety during each session. I would pour myself a warm cup of milky coffee and attempt to swallow down the overwhelming fear that encompassed me. Until one week, my therapist asked which ones of us struggled with anxiety and I slowly raised my hand.
“You know Caffeine can replicate the feelings of anxiety, don’t you?
Well of course I did. I think. Now I thought about it, maybe I didn’t. I’d been sinking anxiety meds for over 4 years to not much prevail. So that week I gave up caffeine and within two weeks all of my more extreme anxiety symptoms disappeared. Turns out, therapy wasn’t making me anxious at all, it was the 3 cups of coffee causing mild heart palpitations that was doing it. I had been caffeine free for 2 years until recently, I had begun letting caffeine back into my life. An odd coffee here, a can of coke there. And then two weeks ago week after a medium cappuccino and half a can of Diet Coke, I lost my peripheral vision in my left eye. Holy Shite. That was enough to switch back to decaf and thankfully the symptoms have gone again. I am sleeping better too.
Slather Me in Green Stuff Until I am Gorgeous
I love beauty products. A pay-day spent in Superdrug is a happy one. Can smothering my face in potions and lotions rid me of my mental health issues? Absolutely not. But can it stave them off, make them less prevalent and make the times when I am up and functioning a lot less miserable? Yes.
When I am feeling good I love a facemask. It makes me feel like I am a luxurious goddess in a self-made spa. I feel both fancy as fuck and like a child pretending to adult during a midweek sleepover. With a face mask on, two slithers of cucumber on my eyes and some whale music in the background, I feel like I can conquer the world. As long as the world is accepting of my debt and the fact I can’t afford toilet roll 3 weeks of a month. So when I feel the need to face pack it up, these little pots from Superdrug do the trick. They are cheaper than a chippy supper and make my skin feel glowing and luxurious whilst also being Vegan and animal cruelty free. I love the coffee, kale and blueberry jam ones (and sometimes I apply them with an old foundation brush to feel fully Insta worthy).
You Are You Now, Enjoy That Version!
The problem with feeling the pressure to do Self Care the ‘right way’ is that it can often makes us feel less than. If we don’t have the money to buy the fancy things or our own place to light up like Winter Wonderland with the world’s supply of pumpkin spice candles, then it can leave us feeling a bit crap. Then the internal monologue begins, when we start to tell ourselves if we bought this, or lived here, or had the time to do this and that, our lives would be better. There is nothing wrong with having aspirations, or goals or something to aim for, but if those things also make us feel rubbish about now, what is the point? The best way you can look after yourself is byy trying to accept where you are at now. Not love it, that might be too much of a leap, but accept it, even if it’s a bit shite. Because honestly, can’t we all relate to that?
Those are my handy self care hacks for the perpetually poor, skint and out of bloody time. What do you do to look after yourself? Are the Self Care posts of others inspirational or not relatable? Let me know in the comments or contact me on my socials, I’d love to hear your thoughts.