Is Self-Care Problematic?

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Curated by informed

A dive into the world of commercialised self-improvement.

  • During the pandemic, the concept of ‘self-care’ has been booming as people suddenly had more time by themselves and health became the focus of the daily global agenda.
  • The WHO defines self-care as “the ability to [...] prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.
  • The term has origins in medical research, but was first catapulted into public awareness by the Black Panther Party and Black feminist writers.
  • While the pursuit of good health has been around for millennia, modern day wellness sells depictions of an ideal version of one’s self - an attractive promise.
  • Wellness tends to be structured around self-optimisation, individualised approaches to wellbeing, and distrust of Western medicine - and is a huge pillar of the concept of self-care.
  • Wellness is an expanding, trillion dollar industry, with products ranging from creams and serums to essential oils, healing stones and dietary supplements - with a growing focus on personalisation.
  • In these times of overwhelmed healthcare systems and ageing, obese populations in many developed countries, self-care plays an important role in disease prevention and health promotion.
  • But the idea that ingesting or applying the right products alone can lead to an optimum version of oneself undoubtedly creates pressure and puts a hefty burden on the shoulders of the individual.
  • Striving for perfectionism can quickly spiral out of control, forbid any flexibility and become a psychological problem, experts warn.
  • And, perhaps even more worryingly, the lines between self care-driven wellness and healthcare are increasingly blurred by an industry eager to cash in on the concept of alternative medicine.
  • This readlist explores whether the benefits of self-care outweigh its risks, and takes a look at what happens when self-care becomes self-medication undertaken in isolation.
The Guardian
The Washington Post
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5 articles on this topic


The Dark Truths Behind Our Obsession With Self-Care

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20 min read

Wellness Culture Won't Save Us. It's Only Making Us More Sick

6 min read
The Guardian

Chakras, crystals and conspiracy theories: how the wellness industry turned its back on Covid science

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17 min read

Self-care is great but when does it border on selfishness?

4 min read
6 min read