SISNEROS: It’s time to re-evaluate what we consider ‘self-care’

Self-pity is an art when you’re an angsty high schooler with bad taste in friends.

At that particular time in my life, I didn’t really know what a coping mechanism was. I maintained friendships with mean girls who tore my confidence to shreds, and I stupidly pursued guys who were so emotionally unavailable they could have made brooding an Olympic sport. One day, when I had just finished breaking down to Sia’s “Breathe Me” in my basement, I decided to make myself a self-care sandwich –– Rotella bread, Mayo, lunch meat, lettuce and overly dramatic teenage tears.

Self-care has been marketed as a trendy thing to do when life becomes too chaotic to handle. It tends to involve anything from gross consumption of junk food to impromptu face masks or, at its worst, Instagram photos of legs in a bubble bath.

However, with this narrow idea of self-care, it is easy to forget that self-care can be anything from getting a full eight hours of sleep to respecting your own boundaries. From a wellness perspective rather than a Lush marketing perspective, self-care is a lifestyle.

It’s a habit of doing things that make life easier. It’s getting proper sleep, eating well, avoiding procrastination and stacking up responsibilities in a manageable way that doesn’t cause stress. It also involves cutting out corrosive parts of your life that hinder how you view yourself and life in general.

Self-care begins with the needs of the self; it involves self-assessment and even a healthy dose of scrutinizing. I have come a long way from thinking that a crappy sandwich in the midst of emotional turmoil is the best avenue toward self-care. As I have grown up, I have figured out toxic traits, both in myself and others, by cutting out bad friends and devoting a lot of time and effort to rooting out negative personality traits.

I realized that if I don’t sleep, I will cry at anything, including commercials. And if I don’t exercise, I will be tense and anxious until I do. I know myself and how I react to certain stressors, and because of that, I can create an environment that cultivates good experiences and less sandwich-involved breakdowns.

The beauty of it all is that anyone can partake in true self-care — but there’s not a road map. There may be tips, like eating healthy, taking vitamins and getting quality sleep, but at the end of the day, everyone is different, and what works for some may not always work for others. The single constant in true self-care is simply knowing one’s own self. From there, anyone can create a comfortable and enjoyable way of life for themselves. It just takes some introspection, and maybe some decent sandwich-making skills, to do so.