Self-care. It sounds like a whisper, but as buzzwords go, it’s practically deafening. More than 15 million Instagram posts are tagged with the phrase and Google searches for the term are peaking. Everyone wants it and experts say it’s a mental-health must. But like most women, it’s a struggle to fit it in. I’ve got a demanding full-time job and two kids. I value taking care of myself, but five-step #selfcaresunday facials? Not happening. When I do manage to carve out some dedicated me time – say, a Sunday afternoon bath (our freestanding soaking tub is my personal oasis) – I don’t fully enjoy it. The nagging voice in my head says I should be playing with my kids or tackling another load of laundry, not lounging among the bubbles.
“There’s still a cultural expectation that, for women, being ‘good’ means taking care of others,” says psychiatrist Dr Gail Saltz, author of The Power of Different. By default, that means being “bad” is doing things for yourself. So we double down, putting everyone else’s needs before our own. A new study confirmed, yet again, that women tend to handle more housework and childcare than men and carry more of the mental load (tracking grocery lists, birthdays). All reasons why research shows that attaining work-life balance is getting harder, not easier.
Beauty-related self-care is especially loaded. Activities like exercise or med