When Self-Care Becomes A To-Do List

Lately practicing self-care has felt like a chore. I’m the kind of person that wants to optimize everything; the question on my mind has been am I doing the right self-care? It doesn’t matter what type of activity I’m doing as self-care I now question if I should be doing something different. Would I feel better taking a bath, painting, etc. than I do right now? The panic of indecision leads me to spend night after night in front of the TV.


When I do pick something to do as self-care, it feels more like an item to check off of my to-do list than a way to nurture myself. I can’t be in the moment because I am thinking about the next part of my “routine.” It’s exhausting. Sometimes I think I don’t have enough time for self-care, but then I spend 2 hours scrolling on my phone. What’s worse is that I’m definitely not alone in this feeling.

woman with white towel on head and face mask Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

One of the sources for this phenomenon is the creeping commercialization of self-care. Companies are shifting products from self-improvement to self-care which blurs the way we separate activities. Another side effect of this is that there are now “better” ways to practice self-care. Celebrities discuss their self-care routines constantly, which causes us to compare ourselves to the unattainable. Even well-meaning comments from friends, like “have you tried meditation?” add to the stress of self-care. I know I should do all the things that make me feel better, but there are only 24 hours in a day.


At this point, I have started to remind myself that self-care is personal. It doesn’t matter what I choose as long as I am in the moment. Unfortunately, there is no single answer, no “best” way to practice self-care. I’m not here to tell you what the solution is; I can only remind you (and myself) that we are doing enough!