The Problem With Mainstream Self-Care

We live in an increasingly material-driven society. We always have, and it’s highly probable that we always will. We crave what others have; everything isn’t enough. Their vacations, their cars, home, and lifestyle are all we can think about. Before the rise of social media, our jealousy was limited to what we could see in person. Nowadays, our cravings have no limits.

We see someone a thousand miles away on our phones, and suddenly we need to experience it as well. We beg the people in our lives to give us the same experience; we attempt to convince that what we have isn’t good enough. We forget to realize that what we see is all plastic: the photos are edited, the ads are built to make us jealous, and the people in those pictures probably aren’t very happy.  

With social media, we start living for others, instead of ourselves. We spend months saving up for a vacation, only to try and take perfect pictures so we can make others jealous. We buy what we think will make us look good to the public eye.

Believe it or not, such superficial directly correlate with our increasing anxiety. We learn to never be content with what we have. We watch the vlogs, and we see the posts, and we believe that our lives aren’t good enough.

The problem extends even further with this new “Self-Care” phenomenon: the obsession with bubble baths, face masks, sweets, candles, etc., that are supposed to wash all our problems away and give us a clean slate. The good news? Our world is becoming far more aware of mental health than ever before, and more people are receiving the help they need, either by others or themselves.

The bad news? “Self-care” is being romanticized more than it should be. In fact, social media’s idea of self-care is just as superficial anything else on the internet. We become indoctrinated with the idea that these shallow forms of self-care will fix all our problems.

It isn’t true. Simply put, “true self care is not all salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.


This is what true self-care is all about:

  1. Physical – respect and love your body through the way you treat it. Eat what provides nutrition and energy. Exercise, not to change your body, but to help nourish it. You’ll find that treating your body well physically oftentimes treats other aspects of your health (spiritual, mental, and emotional)
  2. Emotional – Journal, or speak with a therapist or someone else you trust. Don’t leave your feelings unexplored. The key to emotional wellbeing is to not let your emotions pent up unchecked but to understand why you feel how you feel.
  3. Spiritual – We don’t discuss this a lot on Compass Movement, mainly because we don’t want to create conflict. But we all agree that, regardless of religion, it’s important to have some aspect of faith in what gives you deeper meaning and purpose.
  4. Intellectual – Don’t let your mind go untrained; it’s your most important muscle. Think critically when you can. Pursue new ideas and concepts. Don’t let school determine everything you learn. What are you interested in pursuing? Choose occasionally to read memoirs and nonfiction over the Nicholas Sparks page-turners (You won’t regret it).
  5. Social – Do NOT isolate yourself! Stay close to the people you trust. Cultivate strong relationships with loved ones. We weren’t meant to walk through life alone.
  6. Safety/Security – Finally, taking care of yourself means being aware of external dangers. Don’t walk alone at night. Be aware of your surroundings. Plan for the future.


In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in mainstream self-care. The problem begins when mainstream replaces authentic, and suddenly any aspect of “care” is eradicated. Care is not equivalent to indulgence. Most importantly, never expect yourself to be perfect through any kind of self-care because perfection doesn’t exist. You don’t need to “fix” yourself, only nourish your current state, which includes loving yourself the way you are. The Medium says to, “keep in mind that self-care is also fluid. It can look different depending on the day, your mood, and circumstances. Sometimes it does look like taking a few hours off to let your brain rest. On other days, it’s pushing through a slump to prove to yourself what you’re capable of.”

Sometimes self-care is just waking up in the morning, and that’s okay. Recovery, like life, is a journey. Take time to enjoy the process.

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