Health & Wellness

Self Care or Self Sabotage?

3 important things to keep in mind when practicing self-care so you don’t self-sabotage

In a time when self-care is being increasingly commercialized and becoming a viral trend, sometimes it’s harder to distinguish what’s actually good for ourselves and what’s not. Psychotherapist Emily Roberts believes if something is hurting you it’s not serving you. With this, she says, “If you’re doing things like avoiding people in your life or not doing your homework, it doesn’t mean that you’re practicing self-care, it means that you’re causing yourself more self-sabotage.”

According to PsychCentral, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health online resource, self-care can be defined as, “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” On the other hand, when we engage in behavior that causes issues in our lives, which can disrupt our long-term goals this is called self-sabotage, claims Psychology Today, a magazine and directory meant to connect people with mental health resources.

With this, Roberts believes the distinction between the two is a very slippery slope and tricky to navigate at times. So, here are three things to keep in mind when practicing self-care:

Sometimes self-care is stuff you don’t want to do.

Self-care doesn’t mean that you’re always relaxing or doing face masks. Roberts says, “It means that sometimes you have to push yourself to make the doctor’s appointment or do the things you need to do but don’t want to do, because you know that your future self is going to thank you.” With this, practicing self-care means that we do things that make our emotional and physical health optimal, and that we don’t avoid the important stuff like our mental health, important relationships or finances.

Work on knowing yourself better.

To avoid self-sabotaging behavior, Roberts recommends spending time thinking about what things you tend to avoid in your life, and what is getting in the way of you doing them. This can be done through talk therapy, journaling, and other mindfulness boosting activities. When we set intentions or goals and make to do lists, this can also help us get things done in a way that feels more manageable and less overwhelming.

But remember to start slow and stay patient!

Remember that you don’t have to solve all your personal challenges in one night (or one week, month or year!) and you definitely don’t have to do it all alone. Instead, start to consider ways you can improve your behavior and then find small ways to hold yourself accountable. For example, if you know that when you’re stressed with work, you forget to eat try setting an alarm on your phone to remind yourself of meal times, or when it comes to dealing with finances, consider talking to a financial advisor or asking a friend to be your accountability partner.

Self-care means we honor our value and worth, and though the concept has become much more common these days, it’s always good to remember what’s actually good for us and what’s not.


Photo by Lauren Tepfer
Sara Radin is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York who frequently writes about culture, mental health, and identity. You can link to my Instagram and website - sararradin.com