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5 Reasons Your Self-Care Routine Isn't Working For You

Wellness

Something that's cool about everything about xoNecole — from the xoTribe of writers to our fabulous readers — is we are all individuals and aren't short of having different opinions about, well, everything.


But if there's one thing I think we can all agree on, it's the fact that self-care shouldn't be treated like a trending topic that we read on our favorite websites. Self-care should be an absolutely non-negotiable necessity. There are a billion reasons why, but the one that tops the list is if we don't take good and consistent care of ourselves, how can we possibly do that for anyone else? (That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is we can't.)

But like just about everything else in life, in order for self-care to be its most effective, we need to create the kind of regimen and routine that works for us exclusively. Otherwise, even if our intent is to take good care of ourselves, our so-called self-care plan could actually end up doing more harm than good.

How could you possibly be approaching self-care in a way that is literally working against you? You might be surprised.

You’re Going Way Over Budget

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A spa day is great. You know what else is awesome? Having electricity in your house. If whatever you're doing in the name of self-care is causing you to be impulsive with your money or even reckless with your time, it's something you need to be making some serious adjustments to.

For instance, I know someone who is constantly telling me that she is fine without having a self-care routine in her life. Oh, but let her boss piss her off on Monday and she's spending $200 she doesn't have on a massage that following Thursday. While that might be releasing some physical stress, it's only adding to her financial stress.

Good self-care takes care of all areas of our lives.

The lesson here — if your self-care routine doesn't have a budget, it's time to create one. Oh, and if you know you spend more on spa days than you should, sites like RetailMeNot have lots of spa-related promo codes that can take some of the financial pressure off.

You’re Doing What’s Trendy Instead Of What Actually Works (For You)

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Everything has trends, including self-care. In 2019, some of them include workout bands, goat's milk soap, Ayurveda, organic wine, and ginger oil. All of that is cool but I really like the sulfur soap that I use and sweet almond oil is one of my best friends on the planet. So what if they're not trending? They work for me.

Trying new things is how we grow but you'll never settle into what works for you if you're constantly reading what's popular in the media world (or even if you're always listening to what your friends think you should be doing). Case in point. I've got a friend who does nothing more than take an hour-long bubble bath and drink wine while she's in it since I've known her. But that works for her. And that's great.

Self-care trends don't work for everyone because each of us is unique. It's fine to research what's hot but it's also OK to reject it because when it comes to what works for you, they're…not.

(By the way, if you're looking for some self-care inspiration, download "100+ Resources Every Woman Needs to Live Her Best Life" over at BeFreeProject.com.)

You Aren’t Paying Attention to the Different Categories of Self-Care

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Speaking of trends, a part of the reason why a lot of us tend to focus on only the physical aspect of self-care is because that's what the media talks a lot about. But if you want to be thorough in your self-care approach, it's important to do what's not only good for your body but your mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and even professional well-being too.

A form of mental self-care is going on a social media fast or spending a weekend doing nothing but chilling on the couch at home.

A form of emotional self-care is setting boundaries in your relationships or writing down 10 things you like about yourself (and posting them on your bathroom mirror).

A form of spiritual self-care is meditating in the mornings or volunteering at a local non-profit.

A form of psychological self-care is using a therapist to deal with an unhealed wound(s) or getting a life coach to help you to put certain things in order.

A form of professional self-care is decorating your work space or getting the assistance of a recruiter in order to find a job that's a better fit for you.

Out of all of the ways that self-care routines can backfire, paying attention to only one kind of self-care is probably the biggest.

It Feels Less Like Fun and More Like an Obligation

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I'll be honest. When you first start implementing a self-care regimen into your life, it might seem a little like work. Some of us are so used to doing anything and everything but taking care of ourselves that it can feel foreign. But after three months or so, if you're not actually looking forward to your self-care practices, that's a red flag.

Me? I am an essential oils and herbs junkie. What I don't like is, people I don't know rubbing on me. I have friends who can't imagine life without massages, so they would send me massage certificates. I finally had to tell them that while I was grateful for the thought, I didn't really like to get touched on by strangers. I know. Some of y'all just read that and think that I am totally insane. But that's kind of my point.

The only thing that's a one-size-fits-all reality about self-care is we all need it.

But if whatever we're doing is not fun and relaxing, we need to be doing something else.

You’re Not Being Consistent

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Really. What's the point in getting your nails or eyebrows done if you're only going to do it once in a blue moon? Inconsistent self-care not only keeps you from looking and feeling your best, but it also conveys the message to your mind that you're not important enough to make yourself a priority.

One of my consistent self-care routines is I'm a traditional Sabbath-observer. My friends and clients know that from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I'm off of the grid. Because I use that 24-hour window of time to really rest, each and every week, it makes dealing with the stressors that come up afterward so much easier. I can't imagine what my tolerance level would be like without consistently implementing the Sabbath into my life.

When it comes to being a self-care master, consistency is definitely key. Take care of you, consistently. That's the only way self-care truly works.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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