The online self-care fad is becoming sensationalized

Alyssa Cravens, Staff Reporter

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If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is to never trust the internet.

While it can be an incredibly useful tool for knowledge and communication, I have to take everything it says with a grain of salt; I like to do the research myself before deciding to buy into whatever flesh it is feeding.

Even in using caution, however, there is room for error.

In the surge of mental health awareness, wellbeing and overall mindfulness that is taking place in society, a bruiting wave has swept across the web carrying a hip new term: self-care.

The simple message of caring for one’s self does not raise any red flags because it is inherently a good thing.

Yet, as the old adage goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing; people should take thought and use vigilance when practicing self-care.

It’s important to recognize that self-care is not a new model or deed—it is simply a new label for habits humans have been implementing for many years.

At first glance, I bought into the modern idea of self-care because everything it promised sounded so satisfactory.

However, the more times I tried completing one of the hundreds of “self-care lists” on Pinterest, the worse I felt.

It became clear that this was just another task, another box for me check off at the end of the week.

I didn’t like the way it made me feel, and it had the opposite effect of the promises the internet made to me.

Perhaps an even larger issue with “self-care” is that it is no longer a movement; it is an industry.

I find it impossible to go online or scroll through Instagram without being subjected to some sort of advertisement for a “self-care” activity or kit or subscription service.

In addition to having sold many products, experiences and books, the self-care industry has also swept over the tech world, earning its place as Apple’s top app trend of the year for 2018.

Personally, I am beginning to wonder, is “self-care” just that—a trend?

Most rational individuals are not going to actively stop showering or getting an adequate amount of sleep, but people may not always put the same amount of pressure on themselves to practice “self-care” in the way it is being displayed in the modern world via internet and social media.

This fad carries with it a harmful potential; it tells people they are not caring for themselves correctly if they aren’t going to that SoulCycle class, taking 20 minutes to meditate, religiously repeating a seven-step skincare routine or doing whatever the person, group or industry promoting the self-care tips is suggesting.

Life is chaotic enough already, and people should not face the guilt and shame associated with putting off a task which requires too much of them to actually be considered “self-care” at all.

Self-care should not require people to spend money.

Self-care should not require people to sacrifice their time or other relationships.

Most notably, self-care is not self-love.

It is important for people to pay attention to how they are feeling, take into account their needs, reflect on what should be done and take action.

People can still do the things they love which bring them joy and make them feel good without having to label it “self-care.”

These things can be spontaneous, unconventional and even really hard work; as long as it is promoting wellbeing in the eyes of the individual, it is self-care in my book, regardless of what the internet has to say about it.

Alyssa Cravens can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].