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Self care is all the rage, but what does it actually mean?
Kendall Platt, 34, is a mindful gardening coach. “I feel that the term self-care has been grossly overused in marketing campaigns to encourage people to buy more stuff,” she says.
“My personal definition of self-care is showing myself compassion and kindness and to me that means half an hour in my garden finding some headspace and giving my brain a rest from the information overload that it is currently experiencing.”
However, she remains a firm advocate of the concept of self-care – albeit with some caveats. “My personal view is that self-care is exactly that, whatever that person needs to do in order to care for themselves. I don’t think its self indulgent to allow yourself 30 minutes out of nearly 1000 that we are awake in a day to do something that helps you to feel healthier and mentally stronger- especially right now. However this only applies if the self-care activity is actually beneficial for the person’s health and wellbeing.”
What kind of self-care does she believe harms a person’s wellbeing? “I feel that marketing has taken the term self-care and slapped it on to anything they want to sell that has a vague connection which has unfortunately led to potentially unhealthy practices or pastimes being described as self-care,” she responds. “Whether you can lay the blame for that at the door of the term ‘self-care’ is dubious. I think marketing professionals and brands have a responsibility to use appropriate words and phrases with which to sell their products. But I also feel that we as consumers have a responsibility to fully question and research a product or service before we spend our money on it.”
7 best gardening subscription boxes: Make the most of windowsills, balconies and outside space
This box’s emphasis on mindfulness and mental wellbeing is what we all need during this time of heightened stress. Founder Kendall set it up last year after finding solace in gardening while pregnant and chronically anxious.
Each pack contains a destressing gardening activity – usually plants, seeds or bulbs – along with any additional supplies you might need, such as twine and a wooden marker. You only get one species per month (we got white acidanthera corms), which we appreciated as it felt much less overwhelming to receive than the boxes with multiple varieties to sow or plant up.
Clear instructions are delivered in a friendly, non-patronising tone that encourages you to garden in a way that feels calming. Subscribers get access to a Facebook group and online videos for guidance, community and support – a thoughtful touch that’ll be particularly appreciated during social distancing.
5 mental health lessons we've learned in lockdownBut while I’m gardening, my mind is quiet and focused. It allows me to find calm when I’m feeling panicked and overwhelmed, and helps me to maintain a healthy mindset. So when life throws things at me, which it always will, I’m in a better place to be able to deal with them. It has helped me rebuild my self-confidence after redundancy and been my constant through the unsteady period of new motherhood. I used to feel like a failure for struggling with my mental health but my garden has enabled me to feel proud of myself again.
Moving forward, my motto is ‘little and often’. I plan to do small gardening activities every day after my little girl is in bed. I'm going to set myself small achievable goals, like weed the front border or sow a tray of seeds, and then celebrate my achievement when I’ve done it.
Kendall has been interviewed on the following podcasts: