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Why 'Self-Care' Isn't Helping You Feel Better

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Before I started investing time in cozy hobbies, I thought I was practicing self-care right. I would take a hot bath after a hard day and treat myself to Starbucks and boba. I put time into a skincare routine and all the things labeled as 'self-care': expensive skincare, tea, binge-worthy Netflix shows, and bath bombs. But to be honest, the meltdowns kept coming. Practicing 'self-care' wasn't helping with my anxious thoughts, insecurity-driven meltdowns, and the everyone-looks-so-fulfilled-and-why-didn't-I-go-to-grad-school-or-take-a-gap-year-to-travel-breakdowns.


I think 'self-care' has become such a universal term, and such a marketable term, that the real meaning has been lost. Please stick with me for a mini psychology lesson to explain why 'self-care' that is marketed to us isn't really helping us feel better.


Below is Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory that categorizes what motivates us. As humans evolved, and it became easier to fulfill our basic needs like food and rest, we were able to higher purposes like philosophy and art.


The reason why 'self-care' as it is marketed to us isn't improving our mental health is because it's fulfilling only our basic needs, and not our self-fulfillment needs.



Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

If you're where I was and your self-care routine consists of tidying up your space, eating enough food, hydrating, and bathing, it's not reaching higher levels of fulfillment like esteem and creativity. Unfortunately, we can't bathe ourselves to happiness.

But - you can't reach that fulfilled feeling without taking basic care of yourself. Like the pyramid suggests, you need to satisfy your basic needs like food and rest before you can give your energy to the activities that give your life meaning. What I'm saying is that taking basic care of yourself isn't enough.


If the only time you are carving out for yourself during the day is to satisfy your basic needs, you are still going to feel burnt out. You are still going to wonder why you feel so unfulfilled and empty at the end of the day.


Products that are labeled as 'self-care' like bath bombs, skincare, and labeled water bottles are only satisfying your basic needs. Although your basic needs are important to meet every day, meeting them isn't enough to improve your self-esteem and feelings of fulfillment.


I started feeling better when I began investing time into cozy hobbies like painting, video games, and gardening because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. There are other benefits to cozy hobbies too, like mindfulness and inner child healing. These are all reasons why you need to carve out more time for yourself and stop romanticizing giving yourself the bare minimum. We are all worth so much more than that.


If you want to invest time into cozy hobbies but don't know where to start, visit the page below to get started! And follow me on social media at @sarahscozylife.





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