5 Warning Signs To Watch For That Show When You're Practicing Toxic Self Care

Are you caring for yourself the right way?

5 Warning Signs To Watch For To Know When You're Practicing Toxic Self Care Noah Buscher on Unsplash

We see the term "self-care" all over Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. These social media platforms tell us it’s OK to do whatever our hearts desire all in the name of self care. That may sound amazing, but it can potentially be more harmful than beneficial.

Self-care is good for you, but self-care and self-indulgence are two different things. Often times the two seem to be getting mixed up on social media.


Self-care isn’t just about taking care of your skin and body. It’s really about your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Self-care is making sure that you're aware of what’s going on inside your body. It doesn’t matter how perfect your skincare routine is or how toned your body is if you’re struggling with stress or depression. Even repeatedly binge-watching Netflix isn’t true self-care if you’re using it as an emotional distraction from your real life.

In all honesty, you aren’t really caring for yourself until you start addressing your emotional and mental state.

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Practicing positive self-care can actually be hard sometimes because it requires self-awareness and self-discipline. Caring for yourself properly is about doing what you need to do in terms of achieving optimal health. It’s not always about what you want to do.

For example, Going to bed early to get to the gym early isn’t fun. But it’s essential. Good sleep and exercise benefit your body greatly, so does eating health. That’s self-care, prioritizing what is good for you over what feels good.

But don’t mistake positive self-care as a strict lifestyle that does not allow for relaxation. Having time to relax is just as important because it meets your emotional needs. We all need time to relax and have social lives so we can live a balanced life. So it’s ok to have a cheat day so you can go out to eat with friends. It’s even ok to skip the gym occasionally to have a relaxing bath. The key is to not allow these forms of self-care to become your daily rituals.

Moderation is key when it comes to self-care. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing really quickly. It’s important that whatever you’re doing in the name of self-care is actually meeting an emotional, physical, mental, or relational need. The whole point of self-care is to implement habits that improve your life.


To make sure you’re caring for yourself the right way, check out these signs of bad self-care habits.

1. Skincare is your only focus.

Having a skincare routine is definitely a part of self-care. I find my skincare routine to be quite therapeutic and I absolutely love it. You need to love and appreciate the skin you’re in because it’s yours. There’s nothing wrong with wanting flawless skin, as long as it doesn’t consume your life.

Skincare only becomes a problem when that’s all you focus on. If it causes you to neglect other areas in your life, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Yes, your skin is important, but when you look at your needs you might find that it isn’t the highest on your list. Self-care is about more than putting on face masks, it’s internal. It’s about truly investing in yourself.

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2. You use "self-care" as your excuse to bail on plans.

There’s a difference between prioritizing yourself and being completely selfish. We all need to take the time to put ourselves first. How can we treat others the way they should be treated if we don’t even care for ourselves? It is not selfish to put yourself first from time to time. We all need that time to feel special.

Toxic self-care would be taking me time at the expense of others. Repeatedly flaking on plans without giving a heads up is just selfish. It shows that you don’t value other people’s time. I totally get not feeling in the mood to socialize, I’ve been there. But, it’s nice to let others know you won’t be attending and even reschedule another hang out for a later date. If you don’t want to go somewhere don’t have to, but you should always let the people around you know. If you don’t it can potentially cause a rift in your friendships.

3. You cut people out of your life too quickly.

Communication skills are vital in all aspects of life. Our abilities to communicate can be the determining factor of the success or failure of our relationships in life both personal and professional. We communicate to inform others and to allow our perspectives to be heard. Sometimes things can be lost in translation or misinterpreted, so miscommunication isn’t uncommon.

Characteristics of toxic self-care would be forgoing trying to reach out to others because cutting them off is easier. This is one of those times when self-care requires you to take the route less traveled. We need to be able to communicate with one another. I’m not saying you can’t cut people off, you totally can. Just make sure you talk to them about the situation before you lose someone you once cared for no reason.


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4. Unhealthy options are what you indulge in (because they make you feel good).

Toxic self-care says it’s okay to eat whatever you want when you want it. But, a lot of the foods we want and crave are seldom good for us. That type of lifestyle can be detrimental to your health by raising your likeliness of suffering from dietary based illnesses. If you add not working out to the mix, you are doing yourself a huge disservice as well. Exercise — believe it or not — releases in endorphins which make us happier.

Practicing positive self-care can actually be hard sometimes. Caring for yourself properly is about doing what you need to do, not want to do. So don’t give in to your junk food cravings every day. Just remember moderation is key when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.


5. You spend frivolously.

Self-care is not bankrupting yourself. It's about caring for both your present and future self. In order to do that you need a budget to sustain yourself. Start by avoiding unnecessary purchases. You do not need every cute item you see in the store. Focus on buying the things you really can’t live without (water, food, gas, etc) before you spend money on a dress you’re just going to throw in the back of your closet never to be worn or a book you’re never going to need.

Honestly, self-care does not require a lot of money to achieve. It’s about budgeting your money. Positive self-care is creating a budget so you can actually afford to buy the products and vacations you want. This idea that you can spend whatever you want as long as it makes you happy can set you up for financial hardship. Having a lack of financial security will make it that much hard to care for yourself in other much-needed areas.

RELATED: Why Self-Care Is So Much More Than Nap Time & Bubble Baths

Tamara Sanon is a writer who covers pop culture, astrology, and relationship topics.