Why self-care is unhelpful (and what to do instead)

I'm not a big fan of the concept of self-care.

I use the term"self-care" in the description of my services because it is the easiest way to communicate the idea of taking care of yourself and what you need. But I don't really like the way it's developed in popular culture.

Self-care is talked about as something we need to find time to fit in or prioritize more. And while that's all fine and well, it's not enough.

If we are always looking at self-care as something that needs to be "fit in" it will always be a source of anxiety and guilt for us. Either we fail at fitting it into our busy lives and we feel anxious about "being bad" to ourselves or we succeed at fitting it in and we feel guilty about whatever we had to push aside to make the time.

This is a lose-lose situation and I don't know anyone who likes those!

What really needs to happen is an acknowledgment of the competing priorities in your life, an evaluation of how they line up with your values, and a recalibration so that anything that is important to you is not fit in but is part of your life.


That may sound daunting. So let me walk you through the first couple of steps:

1. Think about the values in your life. What gives you purpose? What makes you feel good and fulfilled? (You might think about a few moments where you have felt a heightened sense of fulfillment to get you started.) If you come up with a lot, pick your top 5.

2. What are your commitments? Consider professional, family, community, hobbies, civic/volunteer, etc.

3. Do each of those commitments line up with your top values?

The ones that don't line up (or are a stretch) are commitments that seem important but are really keeping you from your most fulfilled self. Eventually, you will need to let go of them to make room for what's really important to you.

4. What are you currently missing from your life that would reinforce and strengthen your values?

Those are your answers to "self-care". Those are the things that need to come back into your life, not as a side note, but intentionally.


This reflection will give you a good start into recalibrating your life to make room for the things that are important to you.

I highly recommend that you look for support in making these changes. They are complicated! And the more clarity you have along the way, the easier the process will be. Check out A Custom Fit Life to see what I mean.