I’m sure you’re seeing it everywhere: Mindfulness! Yoga! Meditation Apps! Treat Yo’Self! Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care! Heck, my office is currently located in a yoga studio! I’m all about self-care and holistic wellness.

But it recently occurred to me that many of my clients may have a different idea of “self-care” than I do. In a culture where “wellness” is a multi-billion dollar industry, it makes sense that these concepts have been co-opted to turn profits rather than truly lead toward health. In fact, if we could all be fully satisfied with a simple self-care routine that didn’t involve monthly subscriptions or trendy products (and I believe we can), I don’t know that we’d see the public fever pitch of the push toward “self-care” that we do.

The most prominent distortion of “self-care” I’ve witnessed, and the most heartbreaking one, is when it becomes yet another method for measuring ourselves against an impossible standard and coming up short. When we don’t do enough sun salutations each morning, or run enough miles, or eat the right kind of “healthy” food, and then we feel ashamed. “Self-care” used this way becomes weaponized – it tears away at our tender self instead of bolstering it.

Self-care, real self-care without capitalistic quotation marks, is not a class or face mask. It is simply a state of caring about the self. This can happen just as easily for a split-second in the middle of a work meeting as it can stretched out on a massage table. True self-care, the resourcing kind, is what moves our internal self toward groundedness and health.

To make this easy, here are a few ways you can check in with yourself to see if your self-care is actually taking you where you want to go:

  • Real self-care does not have a time constraint (minimum or maximum).
  • Real self-care does not have a punishing regimen that makes you feel ashamed if you can’t keep up.
  • Real self-care does not require financial expense (although it can occur in tandem at times).
  • Real self-care does not measure you against others.
  • Real self-care is FELT, not DONE.
  • Real self-care can happen anywhere, at any time.
  • Real self-care will leave you feeling refreshed and grounded.

Can you find some space for real self-care today?