Starting a self-care journey is exciting and filled with promise, after all, you can’t go wrong if you’re taking time for yourself. Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely true. When it comes to self-care, many misconceptions lead us to make self-care mistakes that go against the purpose of the practice in the first place. Whether you’re new to self-care or consider yourself a self self-care guru, keep an eye open for these common mistakes we all make in the name of self-care.
1. Neglecting Self-Care
Here’s the easiest one to spot, neglecting self-care. When we focus on helping others all the time, without thinking about helping ourselves first, it’s easy to take too much on. When you choose to start each day by focusing on yourself, it’s easy for the effects of self-care to trickle down to those around you.
2. Distracting Yourself
While distracting yourself can be a form of self-care that offers comfort in a time of anxiety or stress, it’s not always healthy. Distraction can be an excellent short-term solution to deal with extreme anxiety. However, “when you keep distracting yourself whenever you feel anxiety, you’re reinforcing the belief that anxiety must be avoided,” says psychologist Anna Prudovski.
It helps if you learn more about the differences between stress and anxiety, the importance of mental health, and how to approach these struggles instead of dismissing them altogether.
3. Practicing Unmindful Self-Care
This common mistake is why people sometimes view self-care as a selfish practice. Putting on a face mask, getting a massage, or indulging in luxurious spa treatments are all valid forms of self-care. However, you can’t just think of these as sporadic activities that solve complex issues, like your anxiety or your fear of commitment.
On occasion, self-care does feel like work — because it is. Working on yourself should be a thoughtful practice that you do with mindfulness. Please make sure you analyze why putting on a face mask helps you feel better: is it because your acne causes self-image issues? A face mask helps you believe you’re doing something to improve it. Look at your self-care activities under this lens to make sure you’re doing them for the right reasons.
4. Exercise to Cure Everything
Yes, exercise is GR8 for your mind, body, and spirit. As someone who committed to working out every other day for a month, I’ve noticed the difference in my mental state. But exercise isn’t going to solve all of the world’s problems.
When you think about it, you feel terrific while exercising because your mind is occupied. You feel good a few hours after, but at some point, all those endorphins fade away. Exercise isn’t the treatment to deal with the larger picture.
5. Overfocusing on Mindfulness
Many people, believe it or not, stress about not being self-care enough or not being mindful enough. When you’re too focused on reaching calmness in a yoga practice, finding stillness in meditation, or stopping your thoughts while breathing, you’re likely to end up more stressed than ever.
While it’s important to remind yourself to stay calm, you don’t have to punish yourself for not feeling calm after trying. Remember, self-care is a journey. It takes time and practice.
6. Not Being Consistent
On that last note, self-care is a long-term journey. Like many other aspects of healthcare when you’re inconsistent with your self-care plan, you won’t notice the results. Don’t look at self-care as an emergency box you open when anxiety takes over or whenever you get sick. Instead, look at self-care as part of your everyday life that’s important for your wellbeing.
Let go of the quick fix mentality and recognize that to include self-care in your daily activities without struggles, you need to practice.
7. Doing It for the Gram
Unfortunately, the power of social media is unmeasurable. When you start practicing self-care activities for the sole purpose of sharing this #SelfCare photo, you’re only putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Even if you’re trying helpful activities like yoga, meditation, and journaling – if those things don’t work for you, what’s the point?
Make sure you’re approaching self-care for personal reasons and practicing activities that make sense for your journey. Whether they’re the right ones or not, only time will tell. Keep trying different activities and see what makes you feel happy and healthy.