In a previous blog post I wrote about my inherent desire to be of service, and why bitter, resentful feelings had been appearing after offering to help. Turns out, I was depleted. I was struggling to give freely to others because I had been neglecting my own self-care and self-love. While I’d like to think that this wouldn’t impact my ability to put love into the world, it certainly did.

So what does self-care look like? Does a bubble bath count as self-love? What if I don’t want to add ONE MORE THING to my day?

Self-care seems to be such a hot topic these days, but in all honesty, it sounded very unappealing to me when my own nutrition coach broached the topic. I couldn’t think beyond cozy bubble baths or meditation with candles, two activities that I don’t particularly enjoy. Prepping the bathroom for relaxation time seems like unappealing work, not self-care. Plus I rent an apartment in New York City. I don’t think I’ve once seen a tub that I would actually want to sit down in! And while I’m aware of the known benefits of meditation, it’s always something that I have to talk myself into doing.

But the topic of self-care and self-love kept coming up as I continued to read through articles written by my favorite nutrition and wellness bloggers. I trust their knowledge and expertise, so I continued to explore what self-care could look like for me.

I found that I could spend more time with my pets or work on a jigsaw puzzle to bring more joy and self-care into my life. These are also great solo activities, which I really value after a long day of interacting with colleagues. But part of me still felt like something was a little forced. I love snuggling with my furry friends, and even though no one was telling me, “You must teach Brownie a new trick,” I felt like I was breaking a rule if I chose not to do one of these self-care activities on any given day. While this definitely points to my perfectionist nature (something that I’m working on!), it also made me realize that self-care could take on a more gentle, less obvious form.

Passive Self-Care

I recently learned about passive income, which I think is a pretty cool concept. If someone has passive income, it means that they have already put in the hard work to create a product (an online course for example), and now they simply get paid every time a person clicks a button to purchase their product. And it’s possible for the creator to continue to reap the rewards long after their initial work is done. This sounds super appealing to me!

Though I didn’t know it at the time, I realize that I’ve found a way to implement this same concept as I work towards greater self-love. I call it “passive self-care.” It’s similar to passive income because as time passes, I continue to benefit without doing any additional work.

Let me explain. During a call with my nutrition coach, I told her that I’m finally happy with my body because it’s the body that I have as a result of intuitive eating and ending the disordered relationship that I had with food. I’m not implying that I lost weight or changed my body shape and that is why I’m happy. I’m happy with my body because I now fully respect myself, and this is the body that I have as a result. But thoughts of a super fit, “ideal” body still lingered. I still wanted to look a certain way in photos, and anything else felt disappointing. I was very aware of the fact that my abs could be more visible and my chin could be more defined. I couldn’t shake the deeply rooted longing to improve my physical body (who says a leaner body is an improvement...that is another topic for discussion). But I was so proud of all my internal progress, so it was upsetting that something as trivial as abs could be causing so much disappointment.

After thoughtfully listening to my frustrations, my coach provided a suggestion. She challenged me to unfollow all of the Instagram accounts that routinely included pictures of toned, thin, “ideal” bodies. I felt a wave of hesitation because one, could this really make a difference, and two, I often scrolled through these types of accounts as a form of entertainment (hello...something that brings me joy, right?!).

But here’s what I didn’t realize. Every time that I looked at a stranger’s beach body, or gazed at someone’s before and after photo, I was comparing my own body to theirs. I was unconsciously saying, “This is the standard, and I’m not there yet.” I was unknowingly shaming myself for not having a perfect body, all while doing something that was supposed to be bringing me joy and filling my cup.

Now that I have deleted the Instagram accounts, I’m experiencing more internal peace. Instead of comparing and shaming, I have more room for body acceptance and positivity. This is definitely a beautiful, yet less obvious way to gift yourself love and care on a daily basis.

Can you think of any other ways that we can practice passive self-care? Is there anything that you’ve done already? I’d love to hear!