What is Self-Care?


Wellness has taken on various consumable forms, from practical self-help books to more new age healing methods. Its evolution from the structural and instruction-based “self-help” to the more intuitive and explorative “self-care” was marked in 2016, when intensified social pressures in the physical and online environment prompted individuals to realize this new need for space, to freely and simply be. With the global pandemic keeping the population at home for almost a year; daily doom scrolling and inescapable bouts of loneliness among other collective struggles has spurred a recall for self-care in 2020. 

Now in a wider range of packaging and aesthetics, the already individual-focused nature of self-care has expanded more so to accommodate more discerning tastes and lifestyle goals. No longer limited to an excuse for “treating yourself”, self-care has grown to include more slow and holistic care, allowing anyone to create their own definition of wellness in an ever-evolving world that may at times neglect it.


Drawn out moments within our homes may have inspired some of us to take up more domestic hobbies and habits, be it bread-baking, decluttering, zero-waste practice or ceramics collecting. The home in this case acts as an extension of the self. Decluttering our space can help declutter our mindspace, or as tidying expert Marie Kondo puts it; “visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder”. Her widely known KonMari method has made the term “sparks joy” a mainstay in self-care vocabulary, upholding the virtue of keeping and delighting in only what is essential to your space. 
This trickles down into Japanese minimalism and its profound celebration of negative space, which in summary, enhances the purpose of those objects it surrounds. Minimalist-inspired interiors in recent times have notably combined with the functionalism of Scandinavian modernism, creating a cozy and clean hybrid dubbed “Japandi”. Such concept upholds self-care with tangible elements; essential functional pieces in tasteful design for a touch of personality, set within a visually uncluttered space that allows the individual and their sensibilities to stand out.

   Adytum Library from Dezeen   | Philippe Malouin’s Kuru from Iitala  | From Urban Outfitters


Personal care products over recent years have only grown more accessible and customizable. Mobile apps for numerous self-care needs — meditation, sleep, habit and mood tracking, diet tracking, fitness — all in calming colors and friendly interfaces can help anyone ease into making self-care a part of their daily routine. Upkeep of one’s well being is made more convenient with a variety of care box subscriptions on the market, delivering health and diet supplements, as well as skincare and beauty all personally made for you according to your specific health and lifestyle needs. 

Mindful beauty and skincare encourage taking care of the environment while taking care of your body, as brands promote more vegan and cruelty-free products for varying skin needs that guarantee to help your natural beauty shine. Self-care permeates as a common goal for each of these products, achieved through shared concepts of convenience, naturality, and personal preference; allowing individuals to focus on personal matters more important than what is skin deep.

Ritual from TechCrunch |  Drunk Elephant from Fashion Network


Esoteric methods of self-care have recently gained traction on Instagram and Pinterest, perhaps for their mysticism and vast possibilities for personalization. You may have been first introduced to some of these more ritualistic practices of self-care either through a flat-lay post of peculiar objects paired with a lengthy pondering caption, or a recommended Youtube video of a mindful morning routine vlog. Some of such practices include journaling, meditation and yoga, while others may incorporate prayer or spiritually-derived practices such as tarot and oracle reading, energy cleansing, or crystal grid making. Contrary to the goal of self-help which seeks to fix, self-care rituals aim to help the individual understand their inner workings, to better aid the self in emotional healing and soothing.

Reset Manhattan from Amny

From Unsplash

Seeking to learn our unique qualities as an individual contributes to the practice of self-care. The mainstream practice of astrology, from magazine horoscopes to relatable pop culture memes, may have inevitably led more modern mystics to learn more about the practice as well as those related to it; notably, divination through tarot or oracle cards, manifestation, and crystal healing. 

Manifestation can be traced back to the philosophy of the “law of attraction”, or the belief that positive thoughts bring positive experiences and otherwise, popularized by 2000s self-help film and book “The Secret”. Although the mainstream practice of cartomancy or divination through card reading among other modern esoteric practices aren’t specifically traceable, their recent popularity has allowed it to grow an industry of its own. Independent artists are creating their own pop-culture-inspired versions of the divination system, and card readers offer specific and more modernized tarot services based on self-care rather than predictions. Crystal collectors and energy healers offer crystal jewelry and healing services targeting specific trouble spots of an individual, to help them overcome energetic, emotional, or mental blocks. And these only cover the tip of the iceberg. 

The incorporations of esoteric or mystic practices in self-care only continue to develop as more and more creative minds continue to find ways to personalize these practices according to their unique needs and abilities. It presents a new and exciting creative space from which anyone can thrive in as they explore the needs of the self.


Dosist from Highsnobiety | Care/Of from The New Potato

Design for self-care aims to both minimize unnecessary thoughts or anxieties and create a sense of delight and encouragement in the individual. Clean, streamlined elements help ease the mind. Touches of whimsy, such as in luxury or colorful childlike aesthetics, and personal elements, such as in the use of the individual’s name, create a sense of sentimentality and comfort. In encouraging creativity and intuitiveness, individuals are further empowered even amidst a rather harsh reality. More than just “treating” yourself, self-care at its core aims to nourish; mind, body, and spirit. 

With this recall for self-care spurring at such an isolated time, when contact is restricted and touch has become something to avoid; we realize its deep prevalence even over such times. Self-care tools and prompts have since become conveniently widespread on the digital platform. No limits hold between you and your self-care, now with the availability of varying apps that provide everything from wellness tracking to daily tarot readings, as well as in the magical and intimate experiences of virtual reality technology. The practice of self-care does not discriminate, as it welcomes you wherever you are, with calming hues and binaural beats. And although there is no requirement for such tools, the possibilities for self-discovery are endless. You, too, can give yourself new nourishment — just your intention can get you started.

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