Low Maintenance Self-Care, by Gopi Lev Dupain

‘Self care’ as a term has been kind of ruined for me. I’m tired of reading *~hot self-care tips *~ written by unqualified beauty bloggers who are vague at best and trying to sell you $65 candles at worst. I think the process of deepening a relationship with yourself and the ways you can meet your needs and alleviate pain or anxiety is necessary and real. So while retail therapy and other dopamine-boosting activities can definitely be a part of it, I believe one should have a collection of diverse coping mechanisms and habits they can use to look after themselves.

Honest self-care is often ugly, strange or boring and can’t be neatly packaged for an Instagram post (thank goodness). So, in the spirit of stripping back commercialised nonsense and committing to my own ever-shifting wellbeing, here are some new, self-caring habits I’ve put into place that don’t involve buying stuff or tremendous amounts of energy:

I’ve put together a playlist full of all my favourite self-love anthems to play in the mornings as I’m getting ready for the day. It’s impossible for me to bum out when I’m putting on makeup to Lizzo’s ‘Good As Hell’. It began as a whim but has actually become a really wholesome and joyful part of my day.

I have set alarms on my phone reminding me when to eat.Regulating my blood sugar is imperative to balancing my mental health and knowing I’ve put measures in place to aid this process has been helpful and reassuring. I have alarms for meals and snack times that all play fun songs reminding me to fuel the human suit I’ve been wearing for the last 22 years.

Limiting social media usage has been HUGE in easing a lot of mind-chatter and self-worth issues. I haven’t put any hard and fast rules in place but so far I’ve been experimenting with: Not spending more than 10 minutes on it at a time, not checking it first thing in the morning or last thing at night and not automatically reaching for my phone/laptop in the quiet moments of the day or when someone else is on theirs.

Being selective and intentional with who I follow/interact with online. I’ve abolished the idea of the ‘obligation follow’ and I make it a point to only intake content that I find relevant, informative or helpful in my own journey.

Scheduling regular phone calls/face-to-face time with friends and loved ones. I tend to isolate when I’m not feeling my best and after a while, I stop feeling as if I exist (shout-out to deep-seated dissociative tendencies!). So just knowing that my best friend and I have an agreement to talk on the phone at least once a week can help gently bring me back to earth.

Gently examining my motivations and exploring those that are put in place by toxic shame. This shows up in ways as simple as choosing an outfit I know I’m not going to be comfortable in because I feel residual shame over what my body looks like or as complex as maintaining toxic relationships because I’m ashamed to assert my needs. Toxic shame is a sneaky fucker that most people repress and carry for years and years. It’s often externally reinforced which can make it feel hard to get away from but know that it is possible! Slowly untangling myself from mine has been difficult and profoundly liberating. This is quite a big process and I try to make sure I’m feeling calm and well-resourced before working through it.

Abolishing negative language when talking about myself. I learned at a young age that self-deprecatingly airing my insecurities was an easy way for people to find me funny and it’s been an unexpectedly hard habit to break but I’m working on it! Every time I want to say something unkind about myself I replace or amend it with something outrageously confident. ‘’I’m not having a great hair day but I’m literally so good-looking I could pull off anything so I’m not that bothered about it, to be honest’’ – Me, last week. Weirdly effective and beneficial!

Going outside, first thing into the morning. Even if just for a minute or two, rolling out of bed to get fresh air and morning sun on my face has been incredibly grounding.

That’s what I’ve got going for now!

Words and original post: Gopi Lev Dupain