Discover your MNYK Self-Care Routine
By Caitlin Marsilii
Photography by Susan Beard
(Mental Self-Care Photos by Janine Gasarowski)

You hear it all the time: self-care. When it comes down to it, it can become overwhelming to break down what self-care itself actually means. What it means to one person may be completely different for another, but discovering what it is to you individually is so important. For me, self-care is a deeper sense of inner connection found through people, places, activities, and different things.

The act of attending to one’s physical or mental health, generally without medical or other professional consultation.
It’s been a rough week, so this weekend is all about self-care through exercise.

The products or practices used to comfort or soothe oneself.
Seeing friends is my self-care.

Personally, I’ve found learning about my own self-care mindset to be a journey. Not only is self-care a reflection of your own awareness and practice, but it is also very much a reflection of your environment. A few years ago, daily self-care could’ve been drinking a coffee on the campus green and talking with friends between classes. Now, it may be drinking a coffee at Volo Coffeehouse and then strolling down the Towpath to get a good view of the Manayunk Bridge. Hence, my point: Manayunk is self-care, and it provides a variety of outlets for physical, spiritual, social, emotional, and mental self-care.

The first thing that comes to mind for the physical facet of self-care is exercise and fitness, and this neighborhood is chock-full of gyms, fitness groups, and outdoor spaces for working out. The hill is a great place to start as is the Towpath and Manayunk’s many parks and green spaces. As a runner, I am personally drawn to the local running groups like the Manayunk Running Club and Queer Run which meet at Philadelphia Runner and the Manayunk Beer Runners. Other fitness options include RowZone Fitness, Launchpad Fitness, Trek Bicycle and many more, but beyond that, physical self-care can include everything from treating yourself to some good food, getting a cute haircut, rocking a new tattoo, or strolling the street in a favorite new outfit – all of which can be done right here in Manayunk. Many local health & wellness businesses also can help you tap into the physical realm of things, dtXfy Sauna Studio being one that promotes not only nourishing the body but the mind and spirit as well.

dtXfy Sauna Studio is Self-Care:
Denise Lehmann: Founder and CEO of dtXfy Sauna Studio

Q: What does self-care mean to you?

A: “Self-care is a balance between the body, mind, and spirit. What I love about the studio is that it is one hundred percent self-care for me, and I use it on a regular basis. It absolutely enhances the connection between all three.”

Q: How is dtXfy self-care?

A: “I believe that everyone should have access to benefits and natural remedies that dtXfy offers. Through the massage loungers, infrared saunas, and red light therapy, you really start to notice the difference in your body, mind, and spirit. With each session, I notice increased energy, sleep improvement, and mood enhancement, and the entire process is a complete reset for me. Over time, I’ve noticed skin improvement and help with cellular turnover as well. Obviously, the massage chairs feel fabulous as your muscles are kneaded and stretched. With the saunas, you’re sweating as blood and oxygen flows through the body, and then there’s red light therapy which is backed by so much science. Essentially, it helps adjust your circadian rhythm, or your body’s clock, back to its natural state via hormones. With all of the external stimuli in our everyday lives, something as simple as red light therapy can help with regeneration and flow by harnessing the healing wave lengths of the sun.”

When it comes to spirituality, I believe that like self-care, it’s not one size fits all. One of my favorite college professors taught this mindset. He stated how for some people spirituality might be their place of worship or their religious community, for others it might be another connection to something that inspires the emotion of awe, and for some, it might be both. I find that nature, music, art, and community inspire feelings of spirituality for me. It could be a particular sunset on the bridge or connecting with a band at The Graperoom. Maybe it’s soaking in a piece of art or feeling at home in a particular group or community. One of my favorite personal examples of this is opening exhibit nights at The Look Listen. You’re not only taking in awe-inspiring pieces of art, but you’re meeting the artist, hanging out with fellow art enthusiasts, and seeing gallery owner, Mike Starosciak’s, vision in action.

The Look Listen is Self-Care
Mike Starosciak: Gallery Owner of The Look Listen

Q: What does self-care mean to you?

A: “I think self-care is spending time devoted to nourishing your soul and overall well-being, and with that, there’s a private side focused on finding a sense of calm and tranquility through things like meditation and attention practices. For me, there’s also the public side of finding ways to experience self-care in the community, and I think Manayunk is just so ripe in what it offers.”

Q: How is The Look Listen self-care?

A: “There’s just something about being in the physical presence of art that can be so impactful. I find it wild how pigments on a canvas can puncture the depths of your soul, and there’s this awakening that happens. It’s real and can have a profound and sometimes chemical effect on the brain. When starting The Look Listen, the goal was to find a creative space that was accessible and welcoming for all. Now, the gallery hosts rotating art exhibitionists featuring a diverse range of artists and gives people the space to experience that. Self-care is an integral part to what The Look Listen is doing for everyone involved. Creating art is very much a self-care practice for the artists. By supporting artists, they can create more and in turn, they can give us the gift of receiving it and getting exposure to it. Really, being a part of that is self-care for me.”

People are everywhere in Manayunk, and no matter the niche, there’s a group to get involved with or an event to attend. Manayunk makes cultivating relationships – new and old – easy as there’s always something going on. Pet lovers can get to know each other and each other’s furry friends at Bark Social, City of Paws, or at Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. Green thumbs can meetup at PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden, Artesano Cafe, or at Safa Plant Co., and I’ve already made my point that the fitness, music, and art scenes in the neighborhood are thriving. The list goes on as there truly is something for everyone, and you can’t forget the plethora of cafes, restaurants, and bars to hang out at. At Fat Lady Brewing, in addition to grabbing a drink, you can meet the community in so many different ways. On any given night, you can find them hosting drag shows, cornhole tournaments, dance parties, D&D sessions, rounds of speed dating, and so much more.

Fat Lady Brewing is Self-Care
Ashley Wolf: Director of Operations at Fat Lady Brewing

Q: What does self-care mean to you?

A: “Doing things to be happy. It’s taking time for yourself, and making sure your mental health is on par with what you’re trying to do. Personally, for me, it’s reading, going for a walk, hanging out with friends, or seeing a comedy show. It’s doing things that will leave me feeling fulfilled.”

Q: How is Fat Lady Brewing self-care?

A: “We are self-care in the sense that we have a space that’s open to everyone. We invite everyone to come in whether you’re grabbing a drink or just reading from the little library up front, and we hope that everyone can find something here for them. Through our different events, we’re social self-care for people who are into different activities and communities. Whether it’s Nerd Nite, quizzo, or Heyday Athletic meetups, people can enjoy the activity, meet people new and old, and be who they want to be in the space. It’s just the little moments that make you so happy that you just start tearing up like seeing a family having the best time at a drag brunch or two people connecting at speed dating. We really feel good seeing other people feel good, and that’s why coming here is self-care for me.”

Emotional control and intelligence again is a journey and something that develops and changes over time. Self-care in this realm really should focus on processing and expressing emotions in safe and healthy ways. Techniques to do so include journaling, mindfulness, movement, meditation, and different types of therapies. Many services in Manayunk like Intrins Inq, Amee Psychotherapy, and Soul Healn aim to support your emotional growth and self-care overall through a variety of practices catered to your specific needs.

Soul Healn is Self-Care
Kishna Celce: Certified Life Coach Specialized in Trauma-Informed Care at Soul Healn

Q: What does self-care mean to you?

A: “Self-care, for me, is much more than pampering yourself. It’s something that gives spiritual and emotional rest. It’s something that removes a burden off of you and that makes you feel better.”

Q: How is Soul Healn self-care?

A: “At Soul Healn, we help people develop strategies and techniques to take their stress away and release emotions trapped in the body and mind. Our bodies hold onto all the different things that we go through, and if we don’t learn how to release all of that negativity out of our bodies, it’s just going to stay with us and cause us to have all these other issues. The more you hold onto trauma in the body, the more it internalizes and causes you to have actual ailments, so I created Soul Healn as a way to get people to move their body and practice well-being through a range of techniques like body movement therapy, breathwork, stretching, and wellness-centered activities. One of my favorite activities is the self-care jar. I help people develop a list of their favorite things to do and have them write them down on color-coded sticks. Each color represents a different type of activity and can include anything from taking yourself on a picnic to going thrifting. Either daily or weekly, they pick a stick, and this intentional action serves as a great reminder of one’s overall self-care and wellness journey.”

This one is a big one! Mental health and self-care are crucial for overall well-being. Stimulation and challenge help an ever-hungry mind grow, and by learning new skills, trying new things, and doing what you love, you’re fueling your mind. Again, the possibilities are endless in Manayunk. Want to get into carpentry? Take a class at Philadelphia Woodworks right on Umbria Street. Looking to attend wine school? Stop by Jake’s & Cooper’s Wine Bar and Shop on select dates. Want to get lost in a good read? Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex is your spot for comics, graphic novels, art books, manga, and more. Browse the shelves, grab a comic, and get ready for the most relaxing day.

Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex is Self-Care
JD Holden: Owner of Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex

Q: What does self-care mean to you?

A: “My attempts at self-care usually involve having a little bit of time to sit and read with either a cup of coffee from Volo or some tea. I love being able to switch off my stress for a little while and enjoy reading a story, whether it be fictional, slice-of-life, or historical. Sometimes my wife and I will sit peacefully and read our different books on the couch, which is a favorite pastime of mine.”

Q: How is Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex self-care?

A: “For me, it’s a place that I always love to be! I get to spend time with my wife and son throughout the day, and work on projects that I feel passionate about, like my art, shirts, commissions, and stickers. Hearing from my customers, so many of whom have become friends, they tell me that they always feel comfortable and welcome in Hero Complex and even passers-by seem to get a chuckle from my custom shirts, even if they don’t buy anything, and just overhearing those little comments and giggles make my day!”

Again, self-care will mean something different to everyone as it reflects both the internal and external. It may be defined as balance, nourishment, happiness, rest, or connection, but at the end of the day, your individual meaning will define what self-care looks like for you. MNYK is self-care in the sense that it can cater to your experience, but discovering those experiences is up to you.