Self-Care is a Coping Mechanism, not a Solution

I’m calling bull on “self-care”. This corporate-speak for getting oneself through life without completely breaking down is just another personal responsibility trap. We don’t need to buy disposable face masks, we need sleep.

I’m not blasting the things we do for a little lift. I love getting my nails done, it’s fun and relaxing. But that occasional hour of pampering does not atone for the crushing levels of stress and anxiety we’re all laboring under. Like “mindfulness”, self-care is another way to shift the onus of unreasonable expectations onto the worker.

Feeling overwhelmed by the job, systemic racism, family, bills, laundry, the rise of fascism, climate destruction, the demonization of asylees and dirty dishes? Well, have you tried meditating? Maybe try buying that app and waking up half an hour earlier to sit and just IDENTIFY your rage, but you know, separate yourself from it? Try to get some distance and, like, just OBSERVE how your body FEELS.

Meditation* may help one cope, but it doesn’t seem to be impacting the root causes of the disintegration of modern life in America. Self-care is the same trap. Hair falling out in clumps from stress? Screaming at your kids? Maybe you need to practice some self-care? A long soak in hot water with expensive oils and a glass of wine? Perhaps a CBD bath bomb and a vape pen filled with pure THC? Add on the latest SSRI alternative, an ambien and trauma-informed therapy twice a week and you’re on to something!

It’s all the same, it’s all growth driven. The US economy must grow in order to sustain, and we are drowning in a human economy of scale. The buying power of the American middle class was destroyed by the idiocy of hereditary owners of the means of production, who forgot that a collective race to the lowest possible overhead costs would gut the buying power of the American middle class, the engine of our capitalist-based society. They’re wringing the last bit of energy from blue and white collar workers, refusing to hire where there is slightest possibility of getting one more joule from the few on the floor, yet denying benefits wherever they can. Thus creating extremely dangerous and damaging workplaces, while blaming the laborer for failing to thrive.

The myth of “self-care” is a coping mechanism that insidiously reinforces the internalized lie that it is your fault that you are flailing and white-knuckling through. The solution proffered is to buy the products to heal thyself because you can’t afford to set boundaries with your bosses, because you’re scared of failing at the job that’s killing you.

It is particularly vicious because it flips the narrative, instead of calling it “work-harm”, and practicing harm-reduction, we’re calling it “self-care”, and acting like it’s something you can opt to do, or *shrug* not, but long-term sustainability is all on you.

Bull. We can build a better society where we take meaningful care of our workforce and ourselves collectively. And we can toss these lame-ass bromides in the bin.


*I’m not dissing on Eastern religious practices and life-ways, I’m pointing to how mindfulness has been commodified and utilized as an HR tool in the US.