Although we find the term “self-care” as a hashtag slapped on the end of every mainstream Instagram pic that shows ice cream, bubble baths, extra large coffees or puppies, self-care shouldn’t be taken lightly or brushed aside. Despite our annoying mainstream, “Hey, look at this thing I just did” culture hijacking and glamorizing this topic—self-care should be self-focused, not follower-focused. We should take the practice of honest self-care more seriously and the flippant hashtag with a grain of salt.

Of course, taking a bath or gorging yourself with ice cream while bingeing your favorite Netflix series could probably make you feel ten times better in the moment. But self-care doesn’t excuse you to simply do, say, eat or act however you want, whenever you want. Self-care should benefit you most and harm no one.  

No matter how popular culture appropriates this practice, self-care is a unique answer to deal with the diverse emotions experienced in every aspect of our lives. It’s a tool for us to recharge while reflecting on our current experiences and purposely putting attention and effort into ourselves and only ourselves. Sounds pretty selfish, right? Exactly.

Naturally, different people interpret self-care differently. There is no right or wrong way to care for yourself. This practice centers around what personally makes you feel happy, calm, and above everything else, as though you’re taking care of yourself more than you’re taking care of anything or anyone else.

In our world today, we somehow find ourselves putting our wants, needs, desires and happiness last. Even if we do manage to focus on ourselves while answering to the demands of everyday life, oftentimes the hardships and stresses of life affect us more than we may realize or admit. But, self-care allows us some time to reflect, process and heal from all of the emotions and thoughts swirling around us, affecting us consciously and subconsciously.

Self-care doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out extensive ritual. It can take two minutes or two hours. Listen to your thoughts and body. Do what you need. Maybe your self-care routine looks the same every week, or maybe it changes based on how you’re feeling. Despite what your form of self-care looks like—even if it won’t fit in with the picture-perfect insta posts found under the hashtag—your main focus should simply be to take care of you.

So you do you, boo. Nothing is more important than yourself when it comes to self-care. It still counts even if you don’t post it on Instagram.