When Self Care Isn’t Helping

We’re still rollin’ with the self care train this week. We believe that your #1 priority should be YOU! Not in a selfish, narcissistic way. But in a way that leaves you healthy, refreshed, and excited to show up for this life. Other people will take as much as we let them. Therefore it’s up to us to look out for our own needs first. We went into detail about what exactly self care means and how to get started in our last blog post. That would be a good place to start if this is all new to you.

Over the years, especially when I was working a lot with women, a common comment was “I’m trying the self care thing but I don’t feel any different!” There are some good reasons for why this happens. If self care isn’t working for you, I’d say it’s time to explore a different approach. Let’s get into what could go wrong with self care…

When Self Care feels like a chore

There are a LOT of ways to practice taking care of yourself. Some of us (especially the over-achieving, perfectionist, control-freak types) can get a little too military about it. When I first started “working on myself” I practically made it my religion. Self care became boxes to tick off every single day.

✔️Wake up early



✔️Juice organic vegetables


✔️Breathing exercises

✔️Journal time

✔️Nature walk

✔️Healthy, organic meals

✔️Sleep 8+ hours

✔️No junk TV

✔️Etc, etc, etc

All of the above are GREAT parts of self care. However, if you try to implement everything at once, you’re gonna be overwhelmed and burnt out pretty quick. 

First tip: Add self care activities slowly. There is no reason to overhaul your entire routine at once.

Second tip: You don’t have to do everything every day. Meditate one day. Go for a walk the next day. 

Third tip: Only stick with the things that actually make you feel better. If you feel better sleeping in than getting up early, let yourself sleep in! You might find meditation really difficult and stressful while lifting weights is super enjoyable. Do what you like and don’t force yourself to do what doesn’t work.

When Self Care becomes toxic

How could self care become toxic??? 

  • You do it too often or for too long.
  • I try to walk for at least 45 minutes every day. It is good meditation time and the fresh air & sunlight are important. (Plus, my dog neeeeeeds it!) Notice I said try. Some days I don’t make it on a walk. Some days I only go for 20 minutes. Work gets too busy, I run out of time, I’m not in the mood, etc. If I forced myself to go on that walk NO MATTER WHAT, I would eventually start to resent it. I decided to be ok with going an a walk most days of the week. And I usually make it 4-6 days! It’s enough to benefit my well-being and not so much that it stresses me out.

  • You do it for the wrong reasons.
  • Before I figured out the whole exercise thing, I would go to the gym as often as possible – often 2-3 times per day! My goal was clear: lose weight. That was my only goal, and that was always my goal. No matter how much weight I’d already lost and no matter how I felt, in my mind that scale should always be moving down. Of course, that mindset led right to an exhausted body, screwed up hormones, and mental health issues. When I changed the goal of my workouts to actually being healthy, getting stronger, and living longer, it became true self care.

  • It decreases your health and happiness.
  • Is your self care routine eventually bringing you joy, peace, calm, or healing? If not, drop it. I had a personal trainer once tell me that I should be juicing vegetables for health reasons. I bought an expensive juicer, started spending hundreds of dollars on produce every month, woke up a half hour to make a huge glass of green juice, and then spent another 20 minutes cleaning the juicer… EVERY DAY. Did I feel healthier? Maybe at first. But then I started getting grumpy about it. I would be late to work from my stupid juicing routine. I didn’t enjoy vacations because I felt guilty about not juicing. I became obsessed and neurotic. Not cool. This is a perfect example of “self care” that doesn’t ultimately benefit someone. I quit juicing all together for a while, and now only do it if I feel a cold coming on or want an extra boost. I don’t miss the daily juicing one. tiny. bit. 

    When Self Care isn’t enough

    Not enough self care is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. If you have years of childhood trauma to work through, reading one self-help book isn’t gonna cut it. If you’re in an unhealthy marriage, a bubble bath once per week won’t help. If you have digestive problems, going gluten-free for a week probably won’t reverse them.

    When it comes to self care, you’ve gotta use the right tool for the job. Luckily there are MANY options available to you. (In fact, we’re gonna give you lots of ideas in next week’s e-mail! Sign up for that list here if you’re not on it yet!) The right self care in the right amount always works. Sometimes you have to do more, a lot of times you should do less, and sometimes you need to try something entirely different.

    If you feel like your self-care routine isn’t working, take heart! There are plenty of adjustments to make. Like anything else, it is a learning process. We believe it is a process well worth it. If every single one of us took the time to learn our own needs and take care of ourselves FIRST, imagine what a place this world could be! It starts small and it starts with you. 😊

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment