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Love Thyself- harder than it sounds

by Maja Bayyoud on

Aristotle believed that self-love is a prerequisite for loving others. Fast forward to the tech-infused and work obsessed world of today and things have become significantly busier. Particularly for women. 

Enter the self-care movement, which peaked in 2016 and stayed on as a consistent dinner table talking point since. We are returning to Aristotelian principles, and this has reflected in public discourse and advertising. It feels as though important strides are taking place in terms of understanding unfair expectations on women’s time. But the accompanying risk is that there’s an assumption change has been accomplished, and as a consequence deeply entrenched norms can remain unchallenged. 

Girls are taught to be caregivers, empaths and nurturers from early childhood. And while women have stepped into paid employment over the past few decades, men haven’t embraced unpaid work and care responsibilities as readily. Recent research suggest women still do 60% more unpaid work on average than men (ONS, 2016). Lessons learned early on about inherent societal roles stay with us- they become the voice in the back of our mind telling us that doing anything for ourselves detracts from our duties to others. And when the voice occasionally pipes down, deeply entrenched expectations manifest in the world around us.

This is enforced by branding that has co-opted self-care and associated messaging around body positivity and inclusion, specifically the kind targeting women. Brands are keen to capitalise on the purchasing power women have in the name of self-care, jumping on the woke bandwagon. We’ve come a long way from the days when advertising for women focused on cleaning products and home-making (though this roundup of very recent sexist advertising campaigns shows we haven’t come all that far). Nevertheless, the dominant approach is one of hollow soundbites that don't offer up much more than a strap line. Brands should offer a welcome space and great products, because we deserve to treat ourselves for our (twice as high) workload. But doing so is not the only way to feel fulfilled and celebrate our achievements. 

With this in mind, team Motley has rounded up a few of our favourite ways to escape the noise and put number one first. 

  1. Start with this guide if you struggle with identifying exactly what you need to give attention to. Set aside an hour to finish the quiz- it’s sort of like a make-your-own adventure book. You’re the hero of your self-care story.
  2. Self-care is a daily practice, and there’s a whole host of apps to help you maintain it. Headspace is great because it helps with specific areas that may be causing anxiety, such as sleep or relationships. Calm has thousands of free resources on everything from breathing techniques which help with anxiety to self-esteem boosters. The range of self-care apps is endless- here’s a handy list of the best and highest rated ones, available on any and all smartphones. 
  3. Just you and your literary or cinematic heroes. Everyone has that go to thing for when they’re a bit stressed, but that can be easy to put off enjoying if life gets busy. Make a few hours to lounge, snack and absorb some top notch content.  For the book worms, we recommend the New Yorker Fiction podcast- or whatever book you’ve been meaning to get back to for some time. Cinema lovers should consult this list of the 100 best movies of the 21st Century, and start making their way through the ones that have been on the bucket list for far too long. 
  4. The Idler was founded to encourage us all to slow down and pursue quirky and out-of-the-box hobbies we always hear about, but never thought we would end up actually pursuing. If you ever wanted to become a calligrapher or learn the harmonica, now is your chance.  
  5. Ignore this roundup and all roundups cited within this roundup. Time for yourself is the ultimate self-care move, so block some out and enjoy. Staring into space and long naps encouraged. 

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to get some well-earned TLC. What’s that one thing you do which sets your mind at ease? Email in your suggestions, and we’ll share them on the gram. 

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