A decade ago, it was rare for us to hear the phrase "self-care" outside a therapist's office. Now, you can find it on every corner of the web, from beauty Instagrams to social justice blogs. How did self-care go from a little-known concept to one describing everything from face masks to yoga? Through the Internet, of course.
According to an ERIC Institute of Education Sciences study, American college students ages 18 to 34 are using the Internet to research "self-care strategies, alternative therapies, and information related to nutrition and fitness," Yahoo! Beauty reports. The findings aren't particularly surprising, but they are significant: Taking care of yourself is an important skill — and knowing you have the right to take care of yourself can be empowering.
Among beauty bloggers and vloggers, "self-care" often refers to skin care and hair care rituals. But really, it's whatever helps you feel relaxed, pampered, or nurtured. GoodTherapy.org defines self-care as "the actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health." SUNY Buffalo's School of Social Work defines it a bit more specifically as "activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being."
For some people, self-care includes basic things like going grocery shopping and brushing your teeth. Occupational therapist Hannah Daisy created the illustration series "Boring Self-Care" to show that for people with illnesses or disabilities, these everyday self-care acts can be powerful.
Though self-care means many different things to different people, the cool thing about the Internet is that it has room for them all. There are plenty of ways that going online can hurt our mental health, but this is at least one way that it's left us better off.