The self-care movement has become a multi-billion industry, with a bustling marketplace full of services and products catering to every kind of need. Some, like diet delivery plans and meditation apps, exist because of the research-backed health benefits they provide. But others are neatly packaged ploys to squeeze as much money out of a generation suffering from chronic burnout. Capitalism co-opted self-care and said all you need to feel better about yourself is a $100 sheet mask with gold dust and snail essence.
As a concept, self-care is nothing new, being present throughout human history. The ancient Greeks considered the practice as a way of continuous personal reflection and development, making citizens more ethical and concerned about justice and the plight of others. In the early 1970s, conversations surrounding the topic was limited to the medical world. Doctors studied how people in emotionally taxing jobs can deal with high-stress situations. Then, it became a civil rights movement against prejudice experienced by minority groups in the healthcare system.
Fast forward to the present, and self-care found its way into a mainstream culture where the term is being thrown around casually. Its meaning is lost and buried in consumerism. Some current ideas are misunderstood and harmful because the act becomes performative instead of enriching. Here are other self-care myths that you should be wary about.
Myth 1: Self-care means choosing between you and other people.
Some people are allergic to self-care because they think it’s selfish and self-indulgent. Prioritizing yourself will mean ignoring the needs of others or even taking advantage of them. The truth of the matter is not taking the time to look after yourself can deplete your energy and patience in dealing with other people. You will become frustrated and irritated because you don’t have the resources to give to others.
Self-care isn’t a solitary journey, either. Communicating with family and friends about what you’re going through can help in making you feel less alone. Additionally, asking for professional help can give guidance and insight on how you should move forward. If it’s reasonable to get experts, like SunPower solar panel dealers and architects, for house improvements, what more for one’s mental health?
Myth 2: You can buy self-care.
In today’s modern world, the popularity of self-care can be attributed to the lack of institutional support to address the needs of the rising number of people experiencing mental health issues. According to a published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), more than half of Americans suffer from untreated mental illnesses due to a lack of health insurance and financial concerns. Instead, most of the population opts to diagnose and treat themselves.
Unfortunately, most commercialized products and services are not able to solve the root of the problem. They are only band-aid solutions that can make people forget for a short period at a steep cost. That pricey bottle of lavender essential oil won’t take away the source of people’s depression and burnout.
Myth 3: Self-care is always fun and relaxing.
The standard picture of self-care looks like lighting scented candles, indulging in a massage, or watching your favorite Netflix show. While these relaxing activities can improve one’s mood and relieve stress, they are not the be-all and end-all of a proper self-care routine. Sometimes what people need to take care of themselves is to face the problems they’ve been avoiding. You’ll feel much better if guilty issues are not niggling at the back of your brain all the time. No amount of chocolate cookies or beauty products can chase away those troubling thoughts permanently.
There are many misconceptions about self-care, perpetuated by capitalism, the lack of affordable healthcare, and modern culture. They can be harmful to one’s mental health in the long run if the myths continue to be seen as facts.