Self-care is used very loosely in today's society. As a therapist, this bothers me. Not only does it lead to confusion for my clients, but it often encourages behaviors that can make mental health worse.
This post will highlight some of the issues with today's self-care practices and their impact on mental health. As well as what to consider when deciding how to care for oneself.
Self-care practices that lead to more problems
Problematic forms of self-care can start from what seems like the best of intentions. For example, most of my clients are looking for ways to be healthier. They usually focus on self-improvement trends they find in the media. These mainly center on improving external appearance and being more productive.
Also, these self-care practices often take on perfectionistic tendencies and quickly lead to defeat. People try to force results and end up restricting food and overexercising. They worry about being lazy and wake up earlier and earlier to make up for procrastination. Overall, they end up feeling more stress than when they started.
Self-care practices that lead to avoidance
Self-care that focuses on external self-improvement can also distract from underlying issues. These kinds of self-care routines can keep you busy. And many people find staying busy keeps them from distressing feelings they experience when they are still.
One can stay busy with self-care routines and look like they are improving, but their internal world is deteriorating. The busyness provides temporary relief, but without a treatment plan, this leads to overall avoidance.
Over time, busyness provides less relief and creates more problems as feelings become more challenging to avoid and instead come spilling out.
Shame and fear often fuel unhealthy self-care
As a therapist, I see how unhealthy forms of self-care stem from underlying feelings of fear and shame. Most of my clients find these forms of self-care intriguing because they often view themselves as failures. So, self-care becomes another familiar attempt at self-improvement.
Fear of what can happen as a result of not measuring up also fuels my clients into unhealthy forms of self-care. They worry about being found out by others as having something wrong with them. They see these forms of self-care as supposedly working for others. And they want to feel happy and fulfilled like everyone else.
What healthy self-care looks like
Instead, I recommend making self-care goals out of acceptance and flexibility. For example, take care of your health by forgoing diets and fueling your body for what it needs. Find enjoyable movement and start replacing work with hobbies.
Look into self-care as a way to maintain boundaries to prevent overworking. And as a way to limit negative influences that take all your energy. As a result, you can improve your mental health and build resiliency through self-understanding and self-compassion.
Self-care practices lead to natural relief.
Self-care practices that address underlying issues are the goal instead of ones that cause more problems through perfectionistic behavior and avoidance.
Authentic self-care involves acting in self-respect and facing fears.
And if you're like most clients, practicing self-respect is one of your biggest fears. Facing this fear is possible and will lead to genuine relief.
A Therapist in Mahomet, IL Can Help
Therapy can support you in facing your fears and finding acceptance. In treatment, we work on being nonjudgmental and learning to understand ourselves. Therapy with healthy self-care also means understanding yourself in a bigger context and addressing unresolved trauma and neglect. A therapist can help you challenge any false beliefs you've been carrying and support you in your new practice of self-compassion. You can start your therapy journey with Live Lekko by following these simple steps:
- Call or text to schedule your first appointment at 217-402-7817
- Schedule your first appointment at my Illinois-based practice
- Start establishing healthier boundaries!
Other Services Offered in Illinois
I'm happy to offer support with a variety of mental health services including counseling for women and grief and loss counseling. I also offer counseling for people-pleasing, anxiety treatment, and therapy for childhood emotional neglect. Whether you are in Peoria, Springfield, Mahomet, or somewhere in between in Illinois I can help with teletherapy. Visit my blog for more info today!