Frequently recognized for its notable benefits on our overall well-being, it’s no secret that self-care has evolved into an especially buzzworthy concept.
While the idea of unapologetically taking time for yourself may be appealing, it’s important to keep in mind that self-care is about more than just taking a long bubble bath and calling it a day.
Instead, self-care is an ongoing process that’s specifically tailored to your unique stressors and preferences. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, what worked well for somebody else won’t always be successful for you.
Although self-care practices can vary widely per person, some strategies simply don’t make the cut.
Here are six things that actually aren’t self-care at all.
1. Overextending yourself.
Whether you’re committing to an excessive amount of plans to avoid disappointing anyone or going a little too hard at the gym to meet a weight loss goal, neglecting your own needs will only hurt you in the long run.
Working on yourself can certainly be a form of self-care, but only if you give yourself permission to take a breather.
Instead of attempting to do “all the things,” focus on consciously listening to your body and reacting accordingly.
This way, you can still hold yourself accountable to your personal and professional goals without the risk of burnout along the way.
2. Getting too comfortable with chronic laziness.
Enjoying some much-needed downtime after a stressful day at work is good for the soul. However, zoning out in front of Netflix for six hours every single day may not be as helpful as you think it is.
Although relaxing is often associated with a lack of movement, excessive amounts of laziness can do more harm than good when it comes to your mental health.
Rather than toggling back and forth between your work laptop and your TV screen, try switching things up with a yoga session or light jog.
Stepping away from the couch could be the missing piece you need to hit the reset button and clear your cluttered mind, proving that a little bit of movement can go a long way.
3. Putting the fun stuff first.
While prioritizing the things you love may be an act of self-care, falling dangerously behind on your “adulting” obligations isn’t.
Swapping your responsibilities for a fun night out may give you a temporary high, but you’ll only feel more anxious once you inevitably have to face them again.
The truth is, self-care can also involve the not-so-fun stuff such as knocking items off of your to-do list or finally tackling a personal project that you’ve been procrastinating on.
Although it may not be particularly glamorous, embracing productive habits is an underrated form of personal wellness that leaves you with a stronger sense of satisfaction for the long haul.
4. Taking “treat yourself” to unhealthy levels.
Honoring yourself is an important element of self-care, and there’s no need to feel guilty about having an extra scoop of ice cream or purchasing that slightly pricey purse as a reward for a hard-earned accomplishment.
However, regularly engaging in unhealthy eating patterns and irresponsible spending will result in negative effects on both your body and your budget.
Instead, aim to find a happy medium that allows you to stay on-track with your finances and dietary habits without placing any unreasonable restrictions on yourself.
Maintaining a healthy balance will serve your mental and physical health in the best possible way.
5. Going off the grid with no explanation.
Staying constantly connected can be exhausting, and it’s totally normal to need a break from time to time.
Feel free to check out from the group chat when you need to unplug, but avoid dropping off frequently without an adequate explanation.
When those moments of digital overwhelm do occur, let your friends and family know that you’re about to take some “me time” and will catch up with them later. This way, they won’t worry about their texts going unanswered.
Freeing yourself from the noise can be a particularly useful self-care strategy, but it’s even better when you know that you’re not stressing out your loved ones in the process.
6. Staying isolated throughout it all.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care doesn’t have to be a solo act. In fact, connecting with others can make your practice more powerful.
While spending time alone might be your go-to self-care move, keep in mind that snuggling with your partner or catching up with your best friend counts too.
If you try partnering up and discover that it doesn’t do the trick, be honest with yourself about that and pivot as needed.
Because if there’s one thing that self-care isn’t, it’s forcing something that isn’t right for you.