The unbearable heaviness of self-care: relax or added stress? One more box to tick off.

Why is it that even after all the detox teas, meditation, scented candles and wonderful salt baths you’re still feeling tired or stressed? Is there something wrong with you? If you’ve tried all the self-care routines your friends recommend and the ones you see on Instagram and Tik-Tok yet your life continues to feel far from balanced, well, my dear, then you must be doing something wrong. Or at least, that’s what you think, right? But it turns out your self-care routine can become one more source of stress instead of relaxation.

One more box to tick on the to-do list

We usually engage in self-care wanting to achieve the ideal of balance in our lives. Women are expected to work hard and be professionally successful. We must lead a healthy life, but not that healthy since we don’t want to be a bore. We must be bubbly and fun. The house must be tidy, kids; fed, clean and happy. Additionally, we have to find time to exercise and have perfect hair and manicure. And at the end of the day, we should have energy enough left to go out with husband and friends. Wanting to be perfect, we keep adding more boxes to tick on our to-do list, including long self-care routines, which only increase our stress and frustration.

High expectations and anxiety

We are supposed to meet all these standards of perfectionism and still, achieve a balanced life. Any sign of stress is a sign of failure in the world we live in. So we turn to self-care as if this could fix our stress and make us into the perfect creatures we’re expected to be. Self-care routines like facial masks and nice baths with sumptuous oils bring moments of relaxation, of course. But they cannot solve the real problems that cause stress. So you end up feeling guilty and ashamed of your anxiety and keep trying more and more acts of self-care, believing you’ll be happy once they change certain things in you. 

You think maybe adding 30 more minutes of exercising or going on a liquid diet will transform you. Or, you may decide to go in the opposite direction and try to relax by going on a shopping spree. Or overindulging with too much food or wine, which we all know, will only make things worse.

Allow yourself to be stressed once in a while

It is important to accept that life is stressful, and you are only human. There is no shame in feeling sad, irritated or nervous sometimes. It is okay to be stressed. The purpose of self-care should not be to change or fix yourself. And it definitely shouldn’t add more stress into your already busy life. It shouldn’t feel like a punishment and one more obligation on your to-do list. Self-care must be, just as the name says it, a joyful moment of care, from you to you, because it is good and you deserve it. Period. 

Things you can do to reduce stress

Now that we established self-care won’t make your life less stressful, it’s time you address the real causes of stress.

Start by shortening your to-do list. Learn to delegate responsibilities and tasks at home the same way you do at the office. Children are never too young to learn to tidy their rooms, for example. And your husband and you should have equal shares of responsibility around the house. If this is not your case, then read How to make your husband help at home.

Now that you have a little less to do, you can relax a moment. Put some nice music on and spoil yourself with these eight coconut oil beauty treatments you can try at home.

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Photo via Shutterstock

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