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Why self-care might not be working for you.

Lately, self-care has become a huge buzzword, and you can see it all over social media. There is a constant stream of content being created that promotes how people are looking after themselves, from meditation, walking in nature, and taking a bubble bath. Self-care is defined as 'the practice of taking action to preserve one's own health' (Oxford Dictionary, 2023). Of course, there is no doubt that preserving one's health is so important, as it means being able to take time out of busy lives, to prioritise yourself, met your own needs and refill your cup.

However, have you ever felt as though having a bath or meditating is not really doing what you expected? Or have you felt as though you should be doing something to look after yourself more, but there is an obstacle or barrier in the way? Here are some reasons why self-care practices might be not working for you, and what you can do about it.

High expectations

With self-care being talked about by charities and businesses, and a large amount of people posting about #selfcare with 72.1 million tags on Instagram, there can be an expectation that self-care practices, such as bubble baths, walking in nature, and meditation apps will automatically help you. However, the reality is that many of us feel selfish or guilty about taking time for ourselves, and prioritising ourselves does not come naturally. Therefore, it might take some time and exploration to get an understanding of what self-care practices are actually going to work for you - and that is okay; one size does not fit all and it takes time to add to your toolkit.

Emotional Bypassing

Despite self-care being beneficial for wellbeing and mental health, it could be important to consider what it is being used for. If you are implementing self-care practices to enhance your wellbeing, and give yourself the well-deserved break you need, then it is more likely to be effective. However, if you are using self-care as a replacement for professional support, it is unlikely to benefit you in the long term; trust me, I have been there. I hoped that a couple of Jay Shetty's podcasts might sort my own mental health out, but I soon realised this was not enough. Check in with yourself, and consider what it is you really need.

Lack of self-love

Another fluffy and new age concept that gets thrown around the ether! But, in this instance, I have found that if I am not in a place of really loving or valuing myself, self care practices are the first thing to go. Lacking is self-love or worth can be caused by many experiences, including, deep-seated childhood beliefs, burn out, stress, or trauma and many more difficulties. When experiencing any of these issues, it can be more difficult to be softer or kinder to yourself, and so even if you think you might need self-care, you may feel less able, or want to give it to yourself. And additionally, it might be easier to engage in activities such as drinking alcohol, or watching TV which are more easily accessible and provide instant relief. There is no doubt that the instant relief is great, but in the long run, you could be numbing yourself to what is actually going on inside.

So if you relate to any of these reasons for self-care not working...

Go back to basics, mindfully.

This has been a useful piece of advice for me. If you are really struggling with self-care, either you do not have time, or you are not sure where to start with it all, then I have found getting the basics nailed down to be a great starting point. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking water, and getting some exercise. These are all activities we do on a regular basis anyway, so slightly tweaking them to include more fruit and veg, or doing an extra 5 minutes on a walk will enable you to feel empowered by making a conscious decision for your wellbeing, in a small way.


It has taken me such a long time to work out what best supports my wellbeing. And a different mood might need something different. A different day might need something different. Therefore it is important to give yourself the space and time to experiment with self-care practices to see what works. You never know, you may get yourself a new hobby!

...Or seek professional support and advice.

There is a wealth of resources out there to guide you if you believe there is something deeper going on. Never be afraid to reach out - you do not have to do it alone.

V x


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