Self-Care Journeys: The Toxic Outcomes
Written By: Azbah Wasim
Self-care is the idea of one taking care of themselves while taking part in behaviours that promote wellness and health. Although this particular definition seems quite simple, self-care looks and feels different for each individual. The idea and importance of self-care in recent years has become a topic that is more comfortably and openly spoken about. Worldwide, humans are facing much greater challenges regarding mental health, therefore a larger platform is present to speak on these topics by a variety of people.
As humans, self-care should be a simple human right, yet the world in which we live in has made it quite difficult for one to truly be able to care for themselves in a manner in which their self-care is prioritized. In our world today, beauty standards, the idea of disliking oneself, the desire to want to change, sacrificing one's own happiness for other factors and overworking have become so common that the true meaning of prioritizing self-care has become unknown.
As mentioned, there is no one look to self-care. You may find a mask and a nice bath relaxing while another individual may find exploring the outdoors for a day relaxing and therapeutic. The overall idea of self care has to do with how we can all cope better with the stress around us and all the other taxing aspects of life.
Despite how significant self-care is to one's wellness and sanity, the overall concept has become victim to capitalism, which has resulted in various journey’s of self-care ending up with very toxic outcomes.
Self-care content is heavily embedded in various social media outlets and can capture the attention of a wide variety of audience. The term self-care has become so commonly used that these fixed ideas of what it looks like have become ingrained in our minds. The idea of self-care has become consistent with the idea of discipline and staying rigid on a schedule no matter the other circumstances around you. Toxic self-care has introduced and implemented a toxic grind culture which completely ignores wellness or one's sanity. Individuals have started to look at self-care as this idea of “positive selfishness”, which has put a negative connotation on the word itself.
Rest is an aspect of self-care which is completely necessary for a human being to function, yet this aspect of self-care has also fallen victim to toxicity. Rest has been promoted on social media to be a way to improve the quality and quantity of work an individual can produce. Rest is vital for an individual to simply function, but its purpose has been heavily shifted to create a narrative that our bodies need rest for work related purposes. Every human being and events going on in their lives deserve moments of rest for the simple reasoning of resting. Every tiny aspect of survival is manipulated by social media, and their promotion of self-care, to showcase its vitality in other aspects of life.
Another manner in which the toxic outcomes of self-care can be seen is the way in which mindfulness practices are promoted. Recently,
social media has been heavily flooded with individuals teaching others ways in which they can engage in mindful practices. The pressure from seeing others around you do things is stronger than one may think. Meditating, deep breathing, and all other mindful practices help us in regulating our mental health, but these practices should only be used when one truly desires to, not when they are being “forced” into doing such. Moreover, activities and practices that individuals are capable of doing at home have now become businesses and ways for individuals to make money. In this manner, self-care has now become a profitable business for individuals.
Nutrition and exercise are two aspects of self-care that can easily lead to a very toxic road. Social media is full of a lot of false and manipulative information which can be extremely detrimental to individuals starting on their self-care journey. The idea of “clean eating” or working out 6-7 days a week is not every individual's definition of self-care, yet such becomes the case when everyone on social media seems to be following this rigid set of instructions. Individuals lose their ability to be intune with their bodies as they take on extreme changes to complement the content that is being ingrained into their minds. As a result, an individual's mental and physical health only continue to deteriorate, which completely misses the point of self-care.
Self-care has been used as a way to reward oneself or to manipulate a particular goal or outcome an individual has set. Social media and the media in general have twisted the manner in which self-care is meant to be approached. Individuals on their self-care journey become victims to the false reality of self-care on social media, which brings a halt to their true journeys and leads them down a very toxic road.
Despite how beneficial self-care is intended to be, there is a very steep slope that individuals can slip on and end up in a very toxic position.
Not all self-care journeys end in rainbows and unicorns. Some end in destruction. More attention needs to be given to the journeys that don’t go as planned and efforts need to be made to ensure that individuals can accomplish the self-care they so desperately desired.