Simple tips to ‘Treat Yo Self’

Self-care.+The+internet+took+it+and+ran+with+it+to+cover+up+many+underlying+issues+surrounding+mental+health.

Thora Pearson

Self-care. The internet took it and ran with it to cover up many underlying issues surrounding mental health.

Self-care. The internet took it and ran with it to cover up many underlying issues surrounding mental health. According to Vice in “The Young and the Uncared For,” the rise of self care and the “treat yo-self” movement has taken a toxic form that hasn’t been helpful to people going through mental illnesses. The current movement promotes “self-care” tips through brightly themed Instagram accounts, ranging from a spa day, drinking water, doing a facemask or listening to your favorite song. Although those actions are wonderful from time to time, they contribute to the stigma around mental health: that it can be easy to deal with. 

“There’s a couple things [about the self-care accounts] that scare me a little bit,” Dr. Carrie Medelman, KHS social studies teacher, said. “It furthers the myth that depression and anxiety are something that you can snap your fingers and deal with, without any type of professional help or sustained treatment.”

“Selfcare_cuties”, an Instagram account that promotes various self care tips, walks the line between harmless activities and a detriment to mental health, as shown in a post called “Mental Glow-Up”. This post lists all the usual self care activities including doing yoga, keeping a journal, meditating and listening to your favorite music. These can all be forms of self-care and might help on a bad day, but what they cannot do is help with any mental issue. The post goes on to say: 

“Cut out negative people,”

“Don’t listen to others,”

“Have goals,”

“Be independent,” 

“Be open to change,” 

“Smile.” 

On the surface, these simple messages can seem reassuring and beneficial, however, a simple post cannot “glow up” any mental health issues. Meghan Brennan has been running an account called “Meghansbrain” on Instagram since July 27, 2019. She started the account in hopes of raising awareness about her own struggles with mental illness and and its everyday effects on her. 

“I have had problems with mental health since middle school,” Brennan said. “I have been going through a recovery period and in January I relapsed.” 

For Brennan, the account helped her cope with mental illness outside of professional help. Her account makes her feel like she’s helping herself and her followers. 

“Personally, [my account] is a form of self care for me, even though I do see a therapist outside of school,” Brennan said. “I think sharing things that are going on in my life and my emotions and being very public about it makes me feel better about myself, and it makes me feel like I’m helping someone.” 

Self-care has turned into something that ultimately promotes unhealthy lifestyles, especially with mental illness. “Treat yo self” is a phrase coined by Retta and Aziz Ansari in an episode of “Parks and Recreation.” The episode shows them buying clothes, and talking about all the stuff they treat themselves to including massages, clothing and perfume. This was harmless, yet many companies have taken this idea of ‘treating yo self’  and capitalized on it. 

“There’s a whole marketplace of self-care items capitalizing on our distress,” said Elizabeth Renstorm in “The Young and Uncared For.” “Self-care makeup, self-care manicures, self-care face masks, self-care massages, self-care detox tea.”

Self-care has turned into something much uglier than sage, peel-off face masks and bath bombs from Lush. It’s become an escape from getting actual help. We’ve all been guilty before. We have a bad day, so we resort to our favorite album, comfort food, retail therapy or a bubble bath. All those activities are fine, but when you’re dealing with mental illness, those things only act as a band-aid to a bleeding wound. 

I’ve been guilty of it as well. When I was dealing with depression during the end of middle school to my first few years of high school, I’d find myself slapping a facemask on every moment I felt worthless. I’d do sit ups and squats every time I felt like I couldn’t handle the day at hand. I would try a new diet, buy a new shirt and try on some makeup. I always say that my worst year was the year I looked my best because I was convinced that these things would cure my depression. I’m not the only one. When I started therapy, I realized those actions only release dopamine; they won’t stop me from being depressed.

“Your mental state determines almost anything that happens to you day-to-day,” Brennan said. “I don’t think that taking a bubble bath is at the same level as talking about your problems and how to solve them with someone who can help you.”