The Problem With ‘Self Care’

Self care is a concept, a lucrative subset of a 4 trillion dollar wellness industry, and a red-hot social fad that doesn’t do anything to address the underlying issues of why so many people are burned out at work and seriously anxious about an ever-growing list of things.

Because of the money now associated with self care, the purveyors of it have a vested interest in NOT helping resolve the underlying issue of frantic busyness that defines so many people’s daily lives. Granted, some of that frantic busyness is explained by people trying to eke out a living with too few jobs that pay a livable wage, but a lot of it is the result of social contagion. I run on the treadmill of life because you do.

We will mute the clarion call for self care when people will themselves to get sufficient sleep, eat healthy food, and be physically active.

My university is a classic case study in the ridiculousness of self care. All of a sudden, despite my colleagues’ tendencies to overwork, the leadership is talking about the importance of self care. We are like seriously overweight people who think we’ve found the miracle diet, but in this case, we’ll be fine if we just make time for a warm bubble bath at the end of our frantic days. And don’t forget the candle.

I predict all of the self care talk will have no medium or long-term effect on how faculty live their lives. But on the plus side, more bubble bath and candles will be sold.

How Much I Spent Today

How much of our consumption is the result of social contagion? More than we care to admit.

My day was wonderfully counter-cultural. $0 spent out-of-pocket. 

Lest I not kid myself about my minimalist street cred, the digital cash register was continuously updating in the background. The YMCA membership, property taxes, utilities, groceries, coffee beans, auto/house/health insurance, gasoline, internet and streaming services, digital and print subscriptions, the family’s cell-phones. And I’m sure I’m not accounting for some other recurring expenses.

Still, don’t I deserve some credit for saying “no thank you” to the legions of marketers and their super sales?