The Problem with Self Care

You may have caught my ranty post and video on Facebook about self care. I thought I would take a couple of minutes to more concisely outline some of my thoughts about self care. Of course,I think looking after yourself is of crucial importance. Hey, I’ve started a whole business around the idea!

What makes me feel deeply uncomfortable about the self-care industry is that much of what is sold to women as self care stems from the notion that self care is something you do so that you can keep going. Take a bath on the weekend so you can keep working crazy hours and make a cake from scratch for the school fete. Take a few minutes to sip a tea with a nice candle so you don’t completely melt down in the face of the insane demands that are placed upon you and that you place upon yourself. Or go to yoga once a week after the kids are in bed so you can keep being everything to everyone. What’s being sold to us as self care is less about any long-term benefit to our being and more about briefly escaping the lives that feel overwhelming. True self care is not about escaping yourself and your life. Do you really think that taking an hour out of the week for yourself will somehow cancel out the effects of the bat-shit crazy pace most women are living at?

I come from a very, very different place when it comes to self care. I believe that self care is about creating a life that doesn’t leave you exhausted. I believe self care means critically looking at the way you are operating and considering whether it is sustainable. I believe in finding ways to live that nourish you and leave you feeling vibrantly alive, so you don’t need to escape from your life.

I believe real self care is about getting to know yourself, understanding what you want out of your turn on our planet and then making it happen. It is about boundaries and about standing in your own truth. It is about saying no and then saying yes.

Yes to things that excite you, yes to acts of service, yes to opportunities that seem too good to be true. And of course I think a yoga practice, a morning routine and meditation are pretty crucial tools you can utilise to manage stress and create introspective time to think about what you want out of life. But I don’t think they are a panacea. I don’t think they can solve the structural problems of too much stress, not enough sleep, poor nutrition and an inability to say no.

If you don’t examine the basic structure around you that leaves you feeling trashed, self care will always remain as just another item on your overflowing to-do list. Real self care is not escaping your life for an hour or two each week, it is about changing your life so escape no longer feels necessary.