The Problem with #SelfCare

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In theory, self-care is a great concept — it simply means taking care of yourself. However, like most concepts that become popularized by social media, self-care has evolved into an Instagramable, trendy movement, shifting it away from looking inward and taking care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally.

Currently, there are 17.9 million posts on Instagram under the hashtag self-care. Many of these posts are about beauty products, mindfulness or mantras, all of which are not negative things but can overshadow mental health with their trendiness.

While bubble baths, sheet masks, detox tea, meditation or indulging your sweet tooth have some benefits, it is not always the best solution to mental health issues and the current obsession with #selfcare can be damaging in a variety of ways.

For one thing, the beauty and wellness industry has capitalized on the growing self-care trends, marketing their products in a way that suggests a certain face mask or body scrub will be the fix to all of your problems.

In the Vice article, “The Dark Truths Behind Our Obsession With Self-Care,” journalist Shayla Love says,

Self-care has been appropriated by companies and turned into #selfcare; a kind of tease about the healthcare that we are lacking and are desperate for […] you can’t actually treat an anxiety disorder with a bubble bath or a meditation app, and the supposition that you can is a dangerous one.

The majority of these products that promise to improve your self-care practices are expensive as well and create a desire to spend $30-$100 on products when consumers should be focusing on self-assessment, reflection and knowing when to ask for help instead.

And similarly to beauty standards, this self-care trend has set impossible standards for women in particular to live up to, warping them into thinking their self-care routines need to be perfect too. This flawed perception detracts from the core of what it means to take care of yourself and allows people to get caught up in the glamour of #selfcare. It is all too easy for people to be blinded by the popular trends in this movement to the point where they lose sight of what kind of self-care they personally need.

Self-care is just as much mental health as it is anything else, if not more and new products lifestyle influencers rave about, journaling, yoga, treating yourself or “you” time just doesn’t cut it if there are underlying issues.

In fact, a Healthline article says doing something for yourself, which is what self-care has now been boiled down to, can cause more harm than good in some cases.

According to the article, “For many people with anxiety disorders, a trip to the spa, a nap, or an hour of people watching in the park might be something they really want to do — or feel like they should do. They try because they think they’re supposed to, or that it will help them get their thoughts under control and stop worrying about everything. But it doesn’t help them feel better. It doesn’t stop the swirl of worry and anxiety and stress. It doesn’t help them focus or calm down. For lots of folks with anxiety disorders, this kind of ‘self-care’ just doesn’t work.”

As most trends on social media go, it is also common for people to indulge in this kind of self-care simply because it’s popular and everyone else is doing it. While this trend may have good intentions at heart, it’s important to remember the principles behind self-care and to not forget why everyone should take care of themselves.

Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, with your favorite self-care tips!


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