Why Self-Care Should NOT Be Your Top Priority

Sometimes, while browsing Bloglovin’, I become a sucker to the click-bait posts in which they feature various articles around particular subjects. The one I most recently clicked on is called “Why self-care should be your top priority.

After glancing at the language used, I immediately rolled my eyes.

While it feels good, while it can help us de-stress, self-care is a luxury and a privilege. It is not, nor should it be, your top priority (maybe, like, fifth or 25th.) Putting on a mask at the end of a hard day might help you find your chi a little bit more, but it certainly won’t help turn your life around. Single moms raising five kids earning a minimum wage working two jobs should not, on top of feeding their kids and getting them to school, on top of struggling to pay rent each month, on top of working late-night shifts, have to worry to fit self-care into their lives to fulfill their duties as mothers and women.

We need to stray away from this view of wellness/self-care/etc. as being a “practice”we should perfect. It’s great to see self-care as a respite from the stresses of 21st century living, and it’s great to promote mental stability and health, and yes, it is undoubtedly extremely beneficial to set aside time in which you can breaaaathe, but the discourse surrounding self-care is very much a prescriptive one: You must do this, You need to do that, you should perfect this, you should worry about that, etc. So much so, that I find myself stressing over the fact that I do not have an Instagram-worthy self-care regimen set in place for myself.

And while I like that Darling magazine extends the definition of self-care to one that “takes on so many appearances,” encompassing time for hobbies, family, and friends, and buying flowers for yourself, since when did we have to create a term that we suddenly advertise over and over and over again for being social or buying yourself a bouquet of peonies because you like how they look on your mantelpiece? Setting time aside for yourself is not an option for everyone. 

How-To posts telling you that you’re doing life wrong aren’t going to help you feel any better. So yes, partake in self-care when you can, but don’t stress over not stressing when you can’t possibly fit-in, or afford, a coveted skincare regimen, or a bouquet of flowers...or because you hate your family. It’s important to step-back from everything. Andrew Sullivan has a really poignant piece in New York Magazine about how the internet took over his life, and how he’s been trying to get away from his addiction to constant updates, news, texts, etc. In his words, he’s learning to become human again. But this isn’t self-care. This is is simply living.

The way we talk about wellness is, in my opinion, insidious and problematic. It’s shaped by blogs and magazines and Instagram and Snapchat attempting to present, and push for, yet again, a picturesque lifestyle that upper middle class white people can salivate over.

Have a glass of wine. Smoke a joint. Turn-off your phone. Exhale. Live. There, that’s all the self-care you need.


LifeColineself-care, wellness