Signs Your Self-Care Routine Is Actually Self-Sabotage

“Self-care” has become a trend rather than a movement of helping people find themselves and feel some peace. It’s been taken out of context and turned into an excuse to justify toxic habits and behavior. While you may be thinking that you’re just treating yourself, maybe it’s actually doing you more harm than good, and here’s why.

Keeping Busy And Going Out

Five women laughing together on the sidewalk
Photo Credit: Nappy / Pexels
Photo Credit: Nappy / Pexels

You’re thinking that you’re being social and opening the door of opportunities, but what you’re actually doing is over-extending yourself.

Self-care is actually knowing when you need to stay home to let your mind and body rest and when to push yourself out the door to connect with others and experience life.

Treating Yourself

woman with shopping bags walking
Photo Credit: Freestocks / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Freestocks / Unsplash

Yes, you deserve it, but you also deserve not to go bankrupt or gain 20 pounds in two weeks because you disguised unhealthy decisions and unnecessary expenses as “treating yourself.”

Limit treating yourself to once a week so that you earn it and it actually feels like a treat.

Being Strong And Independent

woman standing in white dress by stairs
Photo Credit: Wesley Tingey / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Wesley Tingey / Unsplash

Guess what? It’s actually okay to ask for help sometimes. Being strong doesn’t mean always relying on yourself, it can mean recognizing and accepting when you can’t and looking for help.

No one’s going to think less of you because you can’t put your new pull-out couch together all alone when the IKEA catalog clearly states that it requires two people.

Connecting And Focusing On Yourself

woman looks in mirror in a field
Photo Credit: Caroline Veronez / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Caroline Veronez / Unsplash

There’s a lot of promotion going around for focusing on yourself. This can actually lower your self-esteem because as important as self-awareness is, it’s easily mistaken for self-indulgence.

You’ll end up obsessing over your wrongs and feel dissatisfied.

Self-Care Is Nothing But A Moment

woman at the spa getting a massage
Photo Credit: The Anam / Unsplash
Photo Credit: The Anam / Unsplash

Instead of building a lifestyle, self-care turns out to be a trip to the spa here, or a bath there, and it only lasts a moment. If you actually feel anxious or depressed, those feelings are still there after the spa.

Self-care would be to actually get down to the root of the issue and work through that.

Investing In Expensive Products

hand taking out self care product from box
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Maybe the ingredients of your seven-step skincare routine really are cruelty-free and good for your skin, but the point is that self-care isn’t “in” the products and wellness retreats that you often see on Instagram.

There is no magic cure or product that’s going to fix you because it promised it would. Rather, make a list of what would actually make you happy.

Using A Picture Or A Person As A Goal For Motivation

woman browsing instagram with her finger
Photo Credit: Kate Torline / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Kate Torline / Unsplash

Is following another woman’s fitness account truly motivation, or do you just spend hours analyzing her lean and cut physique then looking in the mirror at yours and comparing? People in the limelight have the resources and time to completely devote their every waking moment to attain these extreme results.

To the average person, that’s not a realistic goal. Instead, use such sources just for tips and tricks or workout ideas.

Doing Whatever You Want, Living By Your Own Rules

woman pouting covering her face in a hoodie
Photo Credit: Gursimrat Ganda / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gursimrat Ganda / Unsplash

Self-care isn’t your excuse to make bad choices, break rules, and basically revert back to being a rebellious 16-year-old.

Self-care is making the most caring choice you’re capable of making in any given moment, in anything in life.

Trying To Get Everything Done Fast

marker an agenda
Photo Credit: Estee Jansseens / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Estee Jansseens / Unsplash

This one should be obvious, but some people equate feelings of productivity and accomplishment with self-care. However, those are the same kind of people who constantly feel burnt out.

Don’t feel called out, you’re just expecting too much too fast. Instead of trying to change everything at once, try just gradually checking items off your list.

Getting Comfortable With Laziness

woman laying down in bed
Photo Credit: Bruno Van Der Kraan / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Bruno Van Der Kraan / Unsplash

On the other end of the spectrum, some people define self-care as not doing anything at all. Yes, we all need our moments to rest, and staying in to binge-watch Bridgerton in one day is definitely self-care, but watching Netflix for six hours every day isn’t helping anyone.

Relaxing doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of movement. In fact, getting off the couch to do stretches may be your missing puzzle piece.

Prioritizing The Fun Stuff

woman listening to music in front of yellow wall
Photo Credit: Bruce Mars / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Bruce Mars / Unsplash

Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s not going to require your time and energy. So by the time you make it to the important “not fun” stuff, you won’t be able to do it properly.

This will just make it harder to get through your chores and tasks and actually make you feel worse for having let it all pile up.

Going Off The Grid

woman drinking wine while leaning against counter
Photo Credit: Ana Itonishvili / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Ana Itonishvili / Unsplash

People go about this in two ways. Either they make a super lengthy personal post on their social media which comes off either as a cry for help or as seeking attention; or they just disappear with no explanation, leaving their friends or family worried and confused. And it might also look like a cry for help or seeking attention.

Simply privately alert your loved ones if this is something you want to do.

Getting Dressed Up

woman putting makeup on in dresser mirror
Photo Credit: Jakob Owens / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jakob Owens / Unsplash

Be careful of what you’re actually doing for yourself and what you’re doing to prove yourself to others. When you dress a certain way, make sure you’re doing it to reflect how you feel and not to please others with your appearance.

The latter just goes back to comparing yourself and thinking that if you look better than others, you’ll feel better.

Isolating Yourself

woman looking out the window wrapped in a blanket
Photo Credit: Ava Sol / Usplash
Photo Credit: Ava Sol / Usplash

We’re team “taking time alone to figure yourself out,” but no one should spend too much time alone. Humans are social creatures by nature, so don’t deny yourself the connections with the people around you.

The more you isolate yourself, the more you’ll get accustomed to it, and the more lonely you’ll eventually feel. Remember this: self-care doesn’t have to be a solo act.

Taking Part In Retail Therapy

woman skipping with shopping bags in front of art wall
Photo Credit: Harry Cunningham / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Harry Cunningham / Unsplash

Retail therapy is a scam. It’s just a way to benefit the economy, which is great for them, but terrible for your wallet. The high of new clothes is very short-lived. It doesn’t actually fix anything.

Plus, as soon as you wear it, it stops being new, so you constantly need to be shopping to keep that feeling going.

Midnight Snacks

hand with a half eaten muffin
Photo Credit: Priscila Du Preez / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Priscila Du Preez / Unsplash

Satisfying a craving every once in a while is completely fine, but having a designated midnight chocolate cabinet isn’t self-care. Your metabolism isn’t able to digest food that close to bedtime, so it’ll slow down and you’ll end up feeling worse over time as your health deteriorates.

Let’s face it, your body needs the sleep more than the chips.

Pushing Yourself Past Your Limits

woman working out on an exercise mat
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

You obviously need to push yourself past a certain degree to grow, but you don’t want to wear yourself out. “Victorious behaviors” tend to be romanticized with extreme movements like juice cleanses.

Jumping from one diet to the next and living at the gym isn’t self-care. Remember to moderate.

Being A “Yes” Kind Of Person

close up of woman holding bouquet
Photo Creidt: Matteo Minglio / Unsplassh
Photo Creidt: Matteo Minglio / Unsplassh

There is a limit to how much you can experience by saying yes all the time. Although you should take risks and say yes to things you usually wouldn’t, you need to set healthy boundaries.

Don’t always make yourself available to other people, don’t feel the need to always attend a night out, and you definitely don’t need to jump out of a plane to prove that you’re living.

Multitasking To Get A Little Bit Of Everything

typing on laptop and eating dessert at the same time
Photo Credit: The Creative Exchange / Unplash
Photo Credit: The Creative Exchange / Unplash

You may think that you’re cheating the system and getting the best of both worlds while working from home and watching The Bachelor. But some research suggests that multitasking can actually impair productivity by as much as 40%, exhaust our brains, make it easier to get distracted, and make it take longer for us to actually achieve anything.

You Do You

woman blowing dandelion in the wind
Photo Credit: Nine Koepfer / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Nine Koepfer / Unsplash

You know what’s the best self-care? Ignoring everything we just said and just doing what feels right to you. Listen to yourself, determine your needs, and give them to yourself, even if it’s shopping or a chocolate bar.

The only thing we insist on is keeping a balance. Too much of anything is never a good thing.