self care myths

I’ve always been the person who made time for self-care. Whether that meant hitting the gym before work, taking a walk on my lunch break, or just stretching before bed, I’ve always had a good idea of what self-care meant to me and how to practice it.

But I realize I’m lucky. Now that self-care is such a hot topic, there’s a lot of misinformation about what constitutes self-care, how to practice it, and why it’s so important. Many people avoid even trying self-care because they’ve picked up so many misconceptions about it.

If any of this sounds familiar…

  • “I just don’t have the time.”
  • “I’m not into that ‘woo’ stuff.”
  • “Self-care just isn’t for me.”

… you’re in luck. Let’s break down six of the most common self-care myths about self-care so you can start incorporating it in your own life in a way that feels true to you.

6 Self-Care Myths

1. “Self-care is only for a certain type of person.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth! Self-care is for everyone, no matter your age, gender, background, career, or economic status. No matter your situation, you can – and should – practice self-care.

That being said, I understand where this myth comes from. Take one look at the self-care hashtag on Instagram and you’ll see tons of similar photos of young, fit women doing yoga and eating greens. Even so, I promise you that people from all walks of life practice self-care in their daily lives, whether they realize it or not.

2. “Self-care looks like bubble baths, face masks, and hot yoga.”

We can thank social media for this myth, too. The beauty and wellness industries has made billions off the image of self-care as bath products, skincare, and fitness classes. I love a bath bomb as much as the next gal, but there are endless ways to take care of yourself that have absolutely nothing to do with bubble baths.

Consider the people in your own life. Most of them probably have an outlet they use to unwind. Maybe your coworker takes a walk on her lunch break or your neighbors works on his motorcycle on the weekends. Maybe your sister runs with her dog every morning or your best friend treats herself to a bubble bath once a week. All of these people are practicing self-care, they just aren’t advertising it.

Some of my nontraditional go-to self-care activities include:

  • Getting some fresh air. Whether you’re hiking up a mountain or just sitting on your porch, spending time outside is great for your health. Even in an urban environment, time outside increases your vitamin D intake, improves concentration, and resets your mood. Put your phone away and enjoy the sounds of nature!
  • Self-pleasure. Yep, masturbation totally counts! The physical and mental benefits of masturbation are amazing. It releases endorphins to make you feel good, helps you sleep better, reduces stress, and eases sexual tension. Embrace it for the self-care activity it is. No guilt or shame here.
  • Spending time with pets. There’s a reason therapy dogs visit hospitals so often. Spending time with pets (especially your own) can significantly improve your mental health. Pets also help us create healthier routines; many morning people only get out of bed so early because the cat needs fed or the dog needs walked. If you’re lucky enough to have a furry friend, spend some quality time with them!

3. “Self-care takes a lot of time.”

If you’ve ever read about someone else’s self-care routine and thought, Who has the time?!, you’re not alone. So many people avoid taking care of themselves because they believe they can’t make time in their busy schedules.

However, there’s no tried and true schedule when it comes to self-care. You don’t have to do it first thing in the morning or right before bed. You don’t have to block off an entire hour or ignore your responsibilities. If you have even five minutes to spare (which everyone does), you can start a self-care routine.

Here are some ideas for when you have very little time:

  • If you have 1 minute, take some deep breaths in through your nose for four counts and out through your mouth for five. Relax your shoulders. Release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  • If you have 5 minutes, declutter your workspace. Put away stray papers, organize cords, and refill your water bottle. (If you don’t have a water bottle on your desk, go get one!)
  • If you have 10 minutes, read a couple pages of a book. Keep a book near your bed or desk, and pick it up when you need a brain break. You may even trick yourself into reading longer than 10 minutes.

If you do have plenty of time, longer self-care activities are great, too! I’m a big fan of hosting all-day, at-home retreats for myself once a month. I get to spend an entire day focused on myself and completely unplugged from the outside world (and all the stress that comes with it).

4. “Self-care is expensive.”

If your preferred self-care routine involves leather-bound journals, CBD bath bombs, and yoga studio memberships, it’ll get expensive. And if that’s fine by you, go for it! Still, that doesn’t mean your routine has to cost a ton of money or any at all.

Most of the self-care I do is completely free, and that’s always where I recommend my clients start as well. We spend enough money taking care of our bodies with healthcare costs, skincare products, fitness programs, and groceries. Why not use what you already have? Journal in an old notebook, walk around your neighborhood instead of at the gym, or listen to a free meditation on Youtube. Get creative!

5. “Self-care means taking care of your body.”

Yes, physical health is a major part of self-care, but so is mental health. The image of self-care as exercise scares a lot of people away from trying it.

There’s no denying that eating right and exercising are great for your body, but the image of self-care as fitness scares a lot of people away. If you’re not a “working out” type of person, you can still incorporate movement into your self-care routine. Walk, stretch, dance to your favorite songs! Move in a way that makes you feel good, whatever that looks like.

6. “Self-care is glamorous.”

I don’t want to discourage anyone from developing a self-care routine, but truth be told, taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes, it isn’t even remotely enjoyable.

Consider one of the biggest stressors in any adult’s life: money. Getting a handle on your finances, saving for your future, and having tough money conversations with your partner are not fun. Still, they count as self-care! When you have control over your finances, you experience less stress and more freedom. Who doesn’t want that?

Something that’s always held true for me is that self-care is worth it. Even when it’s hard, even when it’s inconvenient, and even when it forces me to confront my bad habits. Making the effort will always pay off in the long run.