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The history of self-care

18.06.21 3 min. read

We all watch videos or read articles about self-care almost every day. You probably even have some sort of routine or are in the process of developing one.

But what is self-care? Where does it come from and how did it develop?

It can look different for everyone. Some feel reading or watching videos to relax is self-care. For others, it's a bubble bath or daily skin care routine. For some, it's having good conversations with a friend or going to therapy.

And they're all right! These are all forms of self-care - it just depends on what we need or what our priorities are.


How did self-care come about?

It emerged in the 1950s as a kind of radical act by people of color. It was widespread in the medical community, but only became known and politicized through the Black Panther Party.

"Self-care was not a luxury, it was necessary"

The Self-Care Movement - A Retrospective

As we know, People of Color have been and continue to be excluded and marginalized. And even today, they face great difficulties in society.

Many of them protested for their right and engaged in intense activism, but of course it took a physical and psychological toll. It put them in danger - or worse.

Self-care, accordingly, was not a luxury; it was necessary. While some aspects may resemble the way we see it today, the reasons are somewhat different.

Even then, yoga, which is also popular today, was part of it. Of course, because they needed to stay calm and focused, to promote their physical health.

Other indispensable forms of self-care were self-defense and martial arts, which is a little different from our idea of self-care today. But if we think about certain neighborhoods where People of Color typically lived (and sometimes still live) as well as the danger posed by activism, then of course it makes sense.

But it wasn't just about the physical aspect of self-defense, although that was significant. It was also about feeling empowered. That was essential - especially when the world wanted them to believe they were worth less because of the color of their skin.

Self-care was necessary to empower themselves and the entire community at the same time.


How we use self-care today

Even today, self-care includes ways to empower oneself, such as studying, reading, and mental discipline through yoga or martial arts.

Modern self-care seems to be more about luxury, pampering, and physical care these days - which is important and a good thing, of course - than it is about self-determination and survival.

This includes bubble baths, bath bombs, luxury skin care products, manicures/pedicures, cloth and face masks, hair masks, and more.

There seems to be a seemingly endless selection of products such as luxury slippers, special towels for hair, bathrobes, jade facial rollers, eye masks, and on and on.

So the focus of our time is more on our own self, our comfort, luxury and products that are supposed to do us some good.

Today we are mostly dealing with new demands that did not exist circa 20 years ago. The way we approach self-care and the reasons why it is so important have changed and evolved over time. But some of our challenges have also remained the same and have been around since the beginning of time. That makes self-care still essential, and it probably always will be.

The concept of self-care has always been about survival, but external factors have changed, such as our living spaces and environments. As a rule, we now live in the cleanest, safest and most comfortable cities, towns and homes in our history.

Despite this, self-care is and will remain essential, it's just that the focus is no longer so much on physical integrity or on feeling self-sufficient - although that is still significant, of course.

Much of our daily lives are changing so rapidly and sometimes we feel that they are beyond our control. It's natural for us to crave comfort and the feeling of being in control of something - however small it may be.

There's nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to move on or support others.

So go ahead! Take a bubble bath, put on a mask, or use the Jade Facial Roller to apply your favorite skin care product. Don't feel guilty, you've earned it!

But please try to balance it out by reading a good book or learning a new skill that helps you or others.

If a friend or family member is patiently listening to you vent about your day or week, just ask them sometimes how they're doing.

Take care!

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