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Is Self-care turning into Self-obsession?

We all aspire to be better versions of ourselves, everyday! Over the past few years, the publishing market has been flooded with self-help books while the Internet is full of “life hacks” and “how self-care is the ultimate therapy you need” - all this for a little bit of ‘“me time” in our busy, tech-driven world. In search of our well-being, we have set extreme standards of accomplishments - all trying to be Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Oprah, craving secretly for a celebrity status. From seeking validation from strangers on the Internet to living a metrics-driven life, we have begun quantifying our lives in a way that is actually stressing us out, unnecessarily. 
 
While it is a good thing to aspire for success and create your own version of it, self-improvement has got commodified as every business in the hospitality space is trying to sell you their idea of enhancing yourself. The false sense of self-care also comes from the luxury wellness industry which talks of rejuvenating baths and spas which cost you a bomb. Not only that, it has induced unwanted perfectionist tendencies into people with wearable tech and other tech gadgets. 
 
The World Health Organization, in the 1980s, first described self-care as “the activities individuals, families, and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health.” Today, self-care has become a lot of work as it has metamorphosed into an immediate gratification tool for stress. “Instead of restoring our well-being, we turn to travel, fitness, food, and shopping as ways to escape the exhaustion of daily life. We try to run from a bad relationship, an uninspiring job, disappointment over unmet goals — anything that doesn’t make us feel good,” mentions Melody Wilding, performance coach and Human Behaviour professor. 
 
According to experts, it is not self-care if you are stressing too much about it. “The goal is to create space for yourself, to experience curiosity and explore without pressure. Take a few conscious breaths during your commute, or set an intention for your day before you leave the house. Remember: There is nothing inherently virtuous about torturing yourself (which, for the record, is an intention I frequently set for myself),” writes Charlotte Lieberman, in the Harvard Business Review. 
 
While self-care is essential, we don’t have to confuse it with self-soothing always. “Self-care is so much more than simply relaxing or destressing. Fundamentally, it’s about finding rewarding habits that sustain (instead of drain) you,” adds Wilding, who believes that real self-care is all about digging into the roots of your insecurities or stressors and facing them instead of running from them. It’s also about learning what makes you feel deeply happy and rewarded.
 
According to Srinivasa Rao, founder of US-based Unmistakeable Media, unless we collaborate and put humanity above one country or company, or individual, we will never achieve a better future for all of us. So, the next time you feel stressed out or overwhelmed, do a little self-assessing. “Are you well balanced between each category? Keep in mind that self-care is also fluid. It can look different depending on the day, your mood, and circumstances. Sometimes it does look like taking a few hours off to let your brain rest. On other days, it’s pushing through a slump to prove to yourself what you’re capable of,” elaborated Wilding, adding that self-improvement is little less about treating yourself and much more about reparenting yourself.
 

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