Spoiler Alert: Real Self Care Isn’t a Manicure

Up front you have to know I am not anti-manicure.  However, if manicures and a new shirt and a selfie of your so-called self care moment with 100 instant “likes” were all you needed to quiet your mind and bring health and ease to your body, then that method would be working. Except it isn’t working, is it? #ouch

Still with me?

Real self care is an art that takes a lifetime to master.

Legit self care rarely involves spending money (unless you are paying a babysitter).

Self Care or Entertainment?

Paying $25 and immediately getting exactly what you expected and wanted is entertainment.  Perfectly good entertainment. But not self care. See, we’ve confused the two –entertainment and self care– and it’s natural to do so.  I mean the one is readily available and a quick ‘win’ most of the time, not to mention we are in an age where we are marketed to constantly which has turned nearly everything into entertainment.  Self care on the other hand, is a lifelong process that takes courage and patience- but which produces compounding ease and true rest. This is not about choosing one or the other. It is about recognizing self-care and entertainment as two different things.

You Are The “Self” In Self Care

The Secret To True Self Care Isn't A Manicure

Here is another truth about real self-care: you have to figure it out for yourself and what works for you. Yes, that is correct. This will take a little research, a little time, a few hits, and likely a lot of misses.  A magazine or a celebrity interview or a podcast or even this blog is not going to be your magic bullet. I know, I know– I do not like being the bearer of truth in this matter and I wish it was different but, alas, tis not to be.

 Instead of trying someone else’s self-care routine (which also often involves benefiting them in some way if you haven’t noticed), forge your own and look at it as a life-long treasure map adventure. Remember that thing you loved to do in your free time and found nourishing at 14 (journaling? Necklace making?) – try it.  It might still work but, it might not. Or maybe a different version of that thing. Maybe something totally new that feels challenging and foreign. Different things for different seasons of life. The main thing is that after you have given it a thorough trial, pitch it if it isn’t working and cling like mad to prioritize it if it is working.

Identifying Real Self Care Takes Guts

Look, I get it. I have two small children. I haven’t slept well regularly in….what year is it again? There are days I make healthy, amazing food and days I eat what is left on little plates.   I have Facebook. I sort of know how to use Instagram. I look around- in real life and virtual life (notice yet another set of things that are distinct yet often confused as the same) – and sometimes I think I see people doing it or having it “better” than me.  

People spending money on something that makes me think. . . man, if I could just do or have that. . . that would alleviate the exhaustion, stress, anxiety, emptiness, whatever. But it’s a lie.

Repeat after me: Comparison is a lie. Me and my REAL self care needs are the truth.  

My Self Care Journey

I have also slowly worked to come face to face with my real needs, putting aside the fear that I will identify them but then not be able to have those needs met.  I recently did a whole foods 10 day detox. I did not have sugar in any of its forms, and also did not consume caffeine, meat, or processed foods for 10 days. What this process revealed to me was that most of my cravings and bad habits (food and nonfood) were based on not having enough sleep and lacking regular quiet time.

 However, because those things were too hard to engineer in my current season of life, instead I was using sugar, caffeine, food in general, and entertainment-type treat-yo-self moments with poor results. The detox results were not earth shattering, but the process helped me break bad habits and showed me that a $5 coffee and a manicure are not substitutes for my true needs.

Allison Dobric

For me personally, yoga has also changed my life in dramatic ways, specifically Christ-centered yoga. Time in God’s Word, meditation at the start and end of class, moving my body with kindness and letting go of conscious and unconscious stress through a regular yoga practice have been the missing keys to getting my legs under me in my new season of life.

So How Do I Find A Self Care Routine That Works For Me?

If this was easy you would already be doing it.  Forging ahead in determining your real self-care needs will require doing something different and maybe even flailing a bit at the start.  But you know what? So what if it’s hard?! It’s worth it. You are worth it.

Repeat after me: I am worthy of real self-care.

So, where and how to begin?

  1. Start by making a simple chart like this one. Go ahead and make the chart now, but take a day or two to think it over before filling in your answers. Put the chart on your fridge or bathroom mirror or use it as a bookmark. Keep it visible.
Real Self-Care Needs/Ideas to TryEntertainment/Substitute Self-Care I’m Doing Now
Ex: water, movement, quiet, sleep




  1. After you have mulled it over, fill in three answers for each column.  Start with three. Or even two. Whatever is manageable for you.
  2. Put a note on your calendar or an alert in your phone for two weeks out.  Over the next two weeks be deliberate about including as much of the first column as possible. Plan for it, schedule it on your calendar.  Even if those entries seem trivial, you know they are an intentional representation of your renewed dedication to caring for yourself. So, for example, “lay down and try to nap” or “make a salad” or “sit outside with water and look at stars” are all perfectly good, achievable attempts to explore what your self-care needs really are and how they can truly be met.

A Secret Worth Keeping

Quit chasing lies that leave you empty and take your overall health in the wrong direction.  Be a rebel. And when you find that first routine or thing that works for you, don’t post about it.  Delight in keeping that little treasure all for yourself for at least a while. And then, maybe something random like an invitation for a guest blog post will come along and give you the chance to tell the world about it.

Allison Dobric is a wife, mother of two, and certified Holy Yoga instructor.  You can find out more about her yoga classes, events, and retreats by visiting www.proverbs16three.com or by searching for @holyyogawithallison on Facebook.  This is her first blog post.

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