I’ve always criticized what I’ve sometimes called the chocolate-and-bubble-baths model of self-care, where a series of supposedly “pampering” actions is supposed to somehow replenish you and make you ready to face the world again.
But I think I’ve found the usefulness of these types of activities, and the answer, as usual, lies in mindfulness and intentionality rather than escapism and consumerism.
I used to have a lot of body image issues, and then I found feminism and did a lot of personal work and (I thought) resolved them. Then cancer hit and a lot of that work completely undid itself. Suddenly I was standing in front of the mirror saying shit to myself that I hadn’t said for a decade. That was weird.
And then I got a severe flu, went to urgent care, was not diagnosed with the severe bacterial infection I also coincidentally had, and ended up hospitalized for two days on a near-constant drip of IV antibiotics.