Next time you buy a Thai massage, some new makeup or sign up for a new gym contract, ask yourself why these specific things are promoted as a self-care... and who really benefits?
In a world consumed by capitalism and constant productivity, unless you've been living under a rock, you most likely have come across the concept and constant buzzword of self-care.
It promises solace and relief from the burdens of your fast-paced life. However, beneath the surface lies a darker truth. The self-care industry has become entangled with consumerism and an extractive economy that leaves little time for your genuine well-being.
Why do I care so much?
I’m outraged at how many women are burning out. But it's not difficult to understand why. The systems within which we live and work are designed to extract as much as possible from us, leaving very little over for us to live our lives as we would like.
Then we're TOLD to self-care (but only for small snippets of time where we can find it, or feel we deserve it) and SOLD self-care solutions, which ultimately is an industry all unto itself.
Unveiling the Illusion: How Capitalism Co-opts Self-Care
The commodification of self-care
You've probably encountered the marketable façade of self-care, where soothing facemasks, scented candles, and catchy slogans lure you in. Remember, the industry thrives on your vulnerability, perpetuating the notion that self-care can be purchased off a shelf.
But is this superficial fix truly nurturing your mind, body, and soul?
Escaping the extractive economy
The extractive economy refers to an economic system that prioritises the exploitation and depletion of natural resources for immediate profit, often at the expense of long-term sustainability and societal well-being.
Sound like capitalism?
Well that's what capitalism is... extractive in it's nature, taking and taking and not really giving anything in return.
It emphasises relentless growth and profit accumulation, perpetuating a cycle of exploitation that leaves little room for true disconnection, well-being, and sustainability.
Some (please note NOT ALL) companies can be extractive in their natures. Here's how you know:
Exploitative labor practices: Companies that enforce excessive working hours, low wages, or unsafe working conditions exploit their employees' labor to maximize profits. This extractive approach prioritises the financial gains of the company over the well-being and fair treatment of its workers.
Lack of work-life balance: When companies demand constant availability and sacrifice personal time and well-being for the sake of work, they contribute to an extractive environment. This can lead to burnout, stress, and a diminished quality of life, as employees are unable to disconnect and engage in self-care outside of work.
Limited opportunities for growth and advancement: In an extractive company, employees may find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs with little chance for professional development or career progression. The company's focus on short-term gains and cost-cutting measures can hinder employees' ability to grow, learn, and reach their full potential.
Absence of employee voice and empowerment: Extractive companies often disregard the input and perspectives of their employees, failing to create a supportive and inclusive work environment. This lack of empowerment stifles creativity, collaboration, and innovation, further contributing to an extractive culture that prioritizes profit over the well-being and engagement of employees.
It is important to note that not all companies operate in an extractive manner. Many organizations prioritize employee well-being, foster a healthy work-life balance, provide growth opportunities, and value the voices and contributions of their employees.
However, in cases where companies exhibit the extractive traits described above, it can have detrimental effects on the overall well-being and fulfillment of their workforce.
Disconnection and relaxation are rare luxuries
In an economy that values constant productivity and profit, finding time for genuine disconnection and rejuvenation becomes a rare luxury.
How often have you heard yourself say, "I don't have time for that!". There's so much competing for your time - long work hours and overwhelming workloads, being constantly connected and accessible via technology so that boundaries are blurred between work and private time, caregiving responsibilities, financial constraints and feeling guilty or selfish for taking time out from being productive.
So you find yourself trapped in a cycle of work and stress, with infrequent and expensive holidays offering a temporary respite from the grind. These are sold to you as forms of self-care.
The toll on your mental health is profound, as you struggle to find true moments of reprieve.
But don't worry, a new Maybelline lipstick or a Lush bath bomb should do the trick.
Something has to change.
Beyond Massages and Other Consumerist Traps
I'm not saying that a nice massage isn't vital to feeling like a new woman. What I am saying is be aware of how self-care is being sold to you. Be aware when it's been used as a way to make you feel like you work so hard and so you deserve this XYZ product (even if it's so terribly expensive and unaffordable, sinking you further into debt). Just be aware, that's all.
Then it's up to you to engage or opt out. Because you're an intelligent person.
It's time to challenge the notion that self-care is merely about indulgent experiences and material possessions.
True self-care is fostering meaningful connections with others, cultivating relationships that uplift and nourish your spirit. It is engaging in activities that bring you joy (not DEBT!).
Engage in activities not because they are marketable or Instagrammable, but simply because they ignite your soul. It is finding solace in nature, detaching yourself from the noise of consumerism and embracing the serenity of the natural world.
True self-care demands a radical shift in your perspective.
It begins by dismantling the illusion that well-being can be bought and embracing the power of cultivating inner wellness.
What practices can truly nurture your mind, body, and soul?
Prioritising mental health
Amid the constant pursuit of productivity, your mental health often takes a backseat. But genuine self-care requires a rebellion against this notion. It's about carving out time for reflection, setting boundaries to protect your well-being, and fostering meaningful connections that nourish your soul. How can you prioritize your mental health in a society that values constant output?
Instead of relying on consumerist remedies, it's time to explore practices that go deeper.
Engaging with nature, expressing gratitude, practicing mindfulness, and pursuing creative outlets can all nurture your well-being in meaningful ways.
By detaching from the noise of consumerism, you can embrace serenity and find solace in the simplicity of being.
Self-care is sometimes unsexy
Taking care of your self, and ultimately your mental health, may mean you make time to get your outstanding taxes done or cut p your credit card. It may mean limiting your interactions with toxic people or having a difficult conversation. It could mean waking up earlier so you can make sure you make a healthy lunch for work or turning off your phone for a weekend. It may mean letting go of something that no longer serves you or finally stop this relentless race to keep "improving yourself'.
Breaking Free: Reclaiming Self-Care For Yourself
Resist the shallow promises
Resist the allure of the self-care industry's shallow promises. It's time to reclaim self-care as a deeply personal and authentic journey, driven by your own needs and values. Let go of the notion that external fixes hold the key to your well-being. What does self-care truly mean to you?
The true cost
The cost of consumerist self-care extends beyond monetary expenses. It takes a toll on your mental health, leaving you perpetually unsatisfied and chasing the next product or experience. Recognize this cost and seek a different path toward genuine well-being. What are the consequences of prioritising consumerist self-care?
Path to healing
Reclaiming self-care requires introspection and a commitment to prioritize your well-being. It is a path of healing, embracing practices that align with your values and nurture your mind, body, and soul. It's time to break free from the illusion and rediscover authentic self-care that transcends the trappings of consumerism. How can you embark on this journey?
By understanding the dark side of self-care and embracing a new perspective, you can embark on a journey that truly nourishes and restores you. It's time to reclaim your time, your mental well-being, and your humanity.
Self-Nurturing Questions to Ponder
How has the self-care industry influenced your perception of self-care and of yourself? What are some of the messages you've internalised?
Reflect on your current self-care practices. Are they aligned with your true needs and values? If not, what adjustments can you make?
How can you reclaim your time and prioritise your mental well-being in a society that values constant productivity?
What are some alternative self-care practices that resonate with you? How can you integrate them into your daily life?
How can you challenge the notion that self-care can be bought? What are some ways you can cultivate self-care from within?
What's my mission?
It’s my mission to help overwhelmed, exhausted, burnt out women clarify what they truly want and then work with them to simplify their busy lives so they can get off the hamster wheel of life. This creates spaciousness for breathing again, creativity and play. The ultimate forms of self-care.
Does this sound like something you’re after? We should talk.
Book a confidential Discovery Call with me, let’s see if we gel and take it from there. No obligation, just an opportunity for me to better understand you.