The Treat Yourself Generation.
You would have had to have been living under a rock for the past few years to not notice the self-care explosion that has taken place (that was a grammatically strange sentence).
But what exactly is self-care? Well, in my own dictionary, self-care involves anything that takes care of oneself (obviously), anything that satisfies your needs and anything that helps to 'fill up your own cup,' so to say.
The reality is that human beings are incredibly complex creatures and have a wide variety of needs that should be met in order for us to function at our best. Self-care should cater to our physical, social, emotional, mental and even spiritual needs.
It's hard to believe there was a time before the concept of self-care was a phrase in our daily language, before the wild notion of putting oneself first was commonplace. Self-care had always been present but was typically associated with guilt. If people chose to take a bath instead of tidying the house, or take a nap instead of hitting the gym, they would have been plagued with a sense of shame, feeling terrible that they were not making the most of their precious time in order to do something productive.
However, that is the old way of looking at things. Nowadays, acts of self-care are praised, and people are encouraged to actually make themselves a priority and take some time out to look after themselves if they need to - what a wild thought that is!
Acts of self-care can often require a good deal of effort in order to carry them out. Meditation, journalling, and yoga are all wonderful acts of self-care for your mind, body and spirit, but so many people already have jam-packed schedules, so are having to wake up at least half an hour earlier each day in order to look after themselves. It can be difficult, but from speaking with friends and from what I've seen online, people are doing it. Those who want to feel as best as they can are willing to put in the effort and lose the sleep, and I think that is admirable in itself.
If you had told people twenty years ago that they should wake up even earlier in order to sit in a quiet room and meditate before work, I'm sure the reaction would be one of shock, horror, and maybe even despair. So, why the sudden change in our outlook? Well, we have us millennials to thank for that! Us 'young people' (can I still call myself that at the age of 28?) are often blamed for a lot of things, described as being 'snowflakes' and accused of quitting too easily when things get tough. Even if this is all true (flashbacks to my blog post where I applauded quitting), there is no denying that millennials are the self-care generation, scheduling self-care days off work cancelling plans so we can have a chill evening at home. We no longer need to create wild excuses if we don’t want to attend an event: we can just say ‘I need some me-time!’ and this is widely accepted as completely normal.
Now, recently there has become a slight development when it comes to self-care, a development that can be quite hard-hitting to the bank account. What am I talking about? Well: treating yourself.
Us millennials are the ‘treat yo-self’ gurus, pioneers of rewarding anything we deem to have been tough or challenging with some sort of treat, whether in the form of food, drinks, clothes, or even experiences. We are experts at justifying any expenditure by explaining how it was without a doubt, undeniably necessary: ‘I was treating myself!’
Absolutely if you have had a hard week at work, you should do some retail therapy - splurge out on those shoes you've had your eye on for a while! You deserve it.
However, us millennials don't treat ourselves only once a week. Oh no. We like to treat ourselves much more regularly, perhaps every day and, in some die-hard ‘treat yourselfers’, multiple times a day.
I for one know that I am guilty of this. Woke up early and went for a run? Grab a coffee and a pastry on the way home. Literally ticked just one thing off my to-do list? Spend the next half-hour adding items to my ASOS basket. Feel like I adulted exceptionally well today? You know my bank account will see some movement in a certain direction.
So, do I have a problem? Should I be making an appointment with my GP to complain about a severe case of 'treat yo-selfitis?' Perhaps not. Rather, I should probably just cool off on the treats and refocus my attention back to self-care, which can often be FREE.
Also, if you treat yourself every day, can it really be referred to as 'treats?' Treats, by definition, are things which are not regular occurrences. By treating myself in such a consistent fashion, there will come a point where the treats will have to get bigger if I am to get any joy from them - the iced coffees and croissants won't be enough: I will need MORE.
The conclusion? Firstly, self-care is super important; we are our number one priority and therefore should treat ourselves as such.
Secondly, treating yourself is a lovely thing to do, but let's not go overboard, as then the treats will not feel satisfactory enough, plus the constant reward for minor achievements is becoming quite laughable.