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Why Overglorifying Self-Care Be Harmful To Us

by Lee Xin Hui, Rachel. |

Self-care has been an increasingly popular topic, as people become more self-aware, especially young adults, they develop this want to improve themselves or their lifestyle. I relate to that need because as a young adult myself, I often think of the ways to improve myself and my lifestyle, and oftentimes I come across postings on social media on the tips on doing self-care.

It’s indeed very uplifting to see people encouraging the public to focus on their personal well being, but there are times when these ‘tips’ on social media can be not only unhelpful but even detrimental to us. Sounds ironic, I know, how can taking care of ourselves be dangerous?

Here’s how:

1. When the internet bombards us with too much information

A quick hashtag search on Instagram will reveal over 21million results of posts about self-care. That’s where the problem starts. With social media being so easily accessible, everyone and anyone are giving ideas and ways to improve oneself; and this results with an overload of information. For example, a common list of self-care items will include:

  • Exercising regularly

  • Eating clean

  • Waking up early and have a morning routine

  • Declutter often

  • Pick up a hobby

  • Meditate

And the list goes on. This checklist of self-care rituals inadvertently tells us that in order to get your life together, you have to tick everything off this list. Now imagine if you’re currently doing none of those things, and you suddenly try to do everything at once, you’ll definitely feel drained, right? Instead of feeling better about yourself, you end up being even more stressed trying to keep up with all of the to-dos, but that’s the opposite of what self-care is supposed to do!

The solution to this? Know what you want to achieve first without consulting the Internet, and then practice the necessary ‘self-care’ that works for you. For example, if your primary goal is to have a nice, cosy space for your ‘me time’, then you can filter off advice like exercising and eating clean and focus on seeking advice about decluttering instead. That way, self-care will not feel like a chore because you’re actually working towards something you want.

2. When social media romanticizes self-care

As a rising trend, people are more concerned about carrying out self-care activities instead of the effectiveness of it, resulting in obsessions of ‘Instagrammable’ self-care without understanding the reasons behind those actions. For example, you want to unwind by reading a book and sipping on some tea with a scented candle lit for atmosphere; but before that, you fuss about the type of candle, how the mug is placed, the camera angles, the filters, and all the other elements that go into making your whole self-care routine aesthetic. So here’s the question, is your self-care for your personal well being, or is it for your audience?

To avoid this happening, double-check regularly (and be honest to yourself) if what you do as a part of your ‘self-care’ regime is actually helpful to your overall physical and emotional health. If you find yourself obsessing over self-care or feeling guilty for not carrying out certain activities, it’s a sign to re-evaluate whether or not it is helping you.

3. When the Internet poses temporary fixes and terms them as ‘self-care’.

I realize many self-care activities online serve as a form of escape from the situation instead of a solution to it. Of course, it feels nice to take the night off and indulge in that tub of ice cream while binge-watching Netflix, or sip on some wine with jazz music playing on your record player. All these may provide some sort of respite, but they will not help in the long run. Over time, the first thing you’ll do when facing difficulties is to escape (in the name of self-care) instead of solving them.

To save yourself from spiralling down the rabbit hole, take initiatives to build a life you don’t have to escape from. Oftentimes it is not as simple as indulgence or relaxation, it takes work; which means facing your problems and taking actions to solve them. It can be the hardest thing to do, like seeing your therapist when all you want to do is lie in bed 24/7; but doing the latter will not change your life in any way, right?

The Internet can be helpful with many things, but it is also because of this that viewers run the risk of blindly following what is shown on the Internet without thinking through them critically.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that “He who has a strong enough ‘why’ can

bear almost any ‘how”. So before you practice self-care, I implore you to first question yourself why; and then evaluate if the practices you see online can actually serve your needs so you don’t risk doing things that aren’t beneficial for you.

You may find out more about her on her Instagram too.

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