Sunday, 1 December 2019

We need to talk about the dangers of sugar-coated self-care culture

Woman in a floral bath water
Image by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Let's get real about self-care. I know what you're thinking, is there any point to talk about self-care at this post, when the topic of self-care has been discussed to death? Despite the popularity of self-care related posts, I think there is something that people tend to overlook when it comes to self-care.

The meaning of self-care is broad, it is pretty much all about taking action to improve or maintain your health and well-being. Unfortunately, self-care is now synonymous with bubble baths and cups of tea. In other words, the culture of self-care has turned into a sugar-coated mess.

This post will discuss the dangers related to the sugar-coated self-care culture. I will also explore the idea that genuine self-care relies on your determination to dwell into the darkest parts of your mind and personal responsibility.




What are the problems with the sugar-coated self-care culture? 


Self-care has been plastered over the internet and social media. Even outside the online networks, self-care has become the go-to, generic solution to mental health difficulties in real life.

It appears that over time the act of caring for oneself has turned into a sugar-coated mess. Our problems and mental experiences are now reduced to mere things that can be fixed by a simple facemask. If only it was as easy to deal with our mental distress. Clearly, your problems are oversimplified in this sugar-coated self-care culture. 

When you are bombarded with generic self-care information, it is easy to forget that caring for yourself is not just sunshine and rainbows. Genuine self-care involves the nitty-gritty. You know, coming to terms with what you would rather not pay attention to, being responsible for your actions, that sort of thing.

The rise of self-care as a business selling strategy 


Things related to self-care and well-being has turned into a corporate business strategy. What I mean, is that businesses promote self-care and their so-called 'caring principles' to make money. 

At the end of the day, people who sit at the top of business management, could not give a damn about your problems. Profit is their main priority. 

Businesses don't care about how you feel, instead, they want to push the idea that there is something wrong with you. The genuine meaning of self-care has been lost in this overly commercialized system. 

Using self-care as a bubble-wrap to protect ourselves from pain 

When you feel upset, you may have the temptation to divert your attention from what is causing your sadness. On these occasions, self-care acts as a fantastic distraction. 

Let's face it, there is nothing better than relaxing in a bubble bath, or eating that delicious chocolate cake. For a moment, this sugar-coated self-care helps you to forget about your pain. 

Self-care is like bubble-wrap, your safety blanket that protects you from the pain that's rooted deeper in your mind. In my opinion, this type of self-care cannot fix your well-being. It gives you a temporary solution. 

This sugar-coated self-care culture generalizes your experience 


There are millions of self-care related advice posts out there, and they are all pretty much the same. Generic self-care content does not pay homage to your unique characteristics. It completely ignores your personal experience. 

On paper, people's negative emotions and challenges can look identical. Nevertheless, the way that people experience their lives depends on their perspective and upbringing. This sugar-coated self-care culture generalizes your experience, it treats you like you are the same as everybody else. 

At the end of the day, you know yourself best. You need to make sure that you remember that you are unique and so is your mental distress. 

General self-care can provide you with an opportunity to recharge your batteries, however, when it comes to being truly in control of your mental well-being, you need to step outside from this generalized advice and treat yourself using individual-centered methods. In other words, you need to look inside yourself. 

What steps should you take to challenge the sugar-coated self-care culture? 


I can vent my frustrations about the sugar-coated self-care culture, but it would be pointless if I did not include some ways for you to challenge the generic self-care system. 


Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions but know when to let go 


When it comes to becoming the active agent in control of your mental well-being, the first thing you should do is to pay careful attention to your thoughts and emotions. You should not ignore your needs. 

Taking care of yourself can also take the form of letting go. It can take the form of not giving your negative thoughts and feelings value. It's all about being balanced in how you treat yourself. 

Try to understand why you feel the way you do 


If you are upset about something, it is easy to fall back into the typical self-care activities. I've been there myself. I usually refuse to think about the reasons behind my emotions, because these thoughts are painful. We would rather escape from reality than face it head-on. 

Don't try to run away from analyzing your emotions. Understanding why you feel the way you do will help you to rationalize your emotions and thoughts. 


Cup of tea
Image by Carolyn V on Unsplash


Always take personal responsibility for the consequences of your actions 


This one of the nitty-gritty self-care aspects that is often overlooked. When you take personal responsibility, you act like a decent person. Being a decent person can help you grow and it also benefits people around you. 

There is a misconception that self-care is all about being soft with yourself. In my opinion, genuine self-care consists of strictness as well. You need to be aware of how your behaviour affects others. 

Try not to fall into the guilt response when you realise that your actions may have had a negative impact, instead, try to use your realisations as opportunities to learn from your mistakes. You are not a bad person if you make mistakes. 

Extend your kindness to others and not just to yourself 


When it comes to this sugar-coated self-care culture, we are taught to take care of ourselves and practice self-kindness. There is no denial that extending kindness to yourself during difficult times is beneficial. Self-care is not selfish, but it can make you ignorant. 

You should not forget to be kind to others. Remember to care about others, do not get stuck in a "me, me, me" self-care bubble. 

Stop treating your negative emotions as your enemy 


The best way that you can take care of your well-being is by not treating your negative emotions as your enemy. This type of self-care goes beyond simple generic self-care ideas.

It's all about coming to terms with your feelings, it's about destroying the idea that you are a bad person if you are upset or angry.

You need to teach yourself that there is nothing wrong with you when you are struggling. Every emotion has a purpose, it's just a matter of understanding them. When you stop treating your feelings as your enemy, it will become easier to be content.

Remind yourself that you are an individual 


As I have mentioned before, the current world of self-care is filled with generic advice, which overly simplifies your experience. You need to remember that at the end of the day you are an individual.

Your experience is unique and you are the only one who knows what you need to take care of yourself in your personal situation. After all, everyone sees the world differently. It would be silly to generalize self-care activities to every person.

Stop relying on self-care as an excuse to put off important tasks 


I am definitely a culprit when it comes to using self-care as an excuse. When I know that I need to do something important, I often get frustrated or anxious. Then I immediately lose myself in self-care related activities.

I often rely on self-care as a way to put off important tasks, you could say that self-care for me turns into procrastination. You can't always have nice things in life and only do the things that you want to do. Stop relying on self-care as an excuse to put off responsibilities.

Know the difference between self-care and self-compassion 


Self-care is defined as the act of taking action to improve your health and well-being, that's kind of broad, isn't it? When it comes to being happier and thriving in life, perhaps the thing you need the most is not self-care, but self-compassion. With all these positive psychology terms around, it can get a bit confusing. So I will break self-compassion down for you: 

Basically, self-compassion is treating yourself with kindness and acceptance during distress. Dr. Kristin Neff is a leading expert in self-compassion and she has conceptualized the term as follows: 
  
  • Self-compassion is all about taking care of yourself without judgment and self-criticism. 
  • It's understanding that you don't have to be perfect. 
  • It is understanding that you are human and it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to struggle.

According to Dr. Neff, self-compassion is comprised of three elements: 

self-kindness versus self-judgment - This element is all about being caring and gentle towards yourself. It's about realizing that life difficulties are inevitable. When you are self-compassionate, you move away from judgment and towards warming kindness. 

common humanity versus isolation - Self-compassion is all about realising that you are not alone in your suffering. Suffering and perceived inadequacy is a shared human experience. 

mindfulness versus over-identification - You can't be self-compassionate if you do not take a balanced approach to your negative feelings. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental state in which you observe your feelings as they are. In this state, you experience your feelings instead of suppressing or denying their existence. 


Although it requires consistent effort and practice, self-compassion offers far more meaning than this sugar-coated self-care.



So here you are, here are my views on the sugar-coated self-care culture, ways to challenge it and more useful methods to work on your well-being. I hope that you have enjoyed this post. Tell me, do you have similar opinions about the current state of self-care? I would love to know what you think.



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3 comments :

  1. "Know the difference between self-care and self-compassion"

    I love this! It goes so deeply to show that even positive things turn negative when we do not pay attention and allow ourselves to slide into a realm of excuses so we can avoid challenges and fear and pain; that feeling everyone with a heart hates.

    Having the same respect for yourself that you treat others with is, I think, a good way to know how and when to take care of yourself without hiding behind sugar-coated self-care.

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  2. I like this post, as sometimes self care all people see if face masks and bubble baths but it is a lot more than that. I do think addressing your thoughts and feelings head on is so important. Thank you for sharing! Xx

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  3. OMG, yes! Thank you so much! Self-care has turned into a way of making money and that's it. This system always manages a way to put money first and trick us into buying more stuff!
    And I'm definitely also someone for whom "self-care" can turn into procrastination.

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