How Self-Care is Limited

By Shirley Fang

Self care is a necessary part of life, in order for humans to lead healthy, productive, fulfilling lives. It allows us to take care of ourselves so that we have the capacity to help and care for others. Nowadays, self care is often synonymous with taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, meditating, etc. However, there is only so much that self care can do for us. It is easy for family and friends (and even therapists) to say take a break, but when stuck between a rock and a hard place, a bubble bath won’t stop your manager from being overbearing, or cure your financial crisis.

Lack of Resources
I’m sure at one point or another, we have all felt the urge to quit our jobs and disappear to Aruba for a lifelong vacation. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to do that. While self care can provide us a momentary escape, we often suffer from problems that cannot be solved with that. Most people have to work at terrible jobs because they have to make ends meet. Some people have to live with toxic family members because they can’t afford to live anywhere else. There will be times when we will be stuck in the position we are in and no amount of self care will help us escape that.


Burnout is the eventual consequence when self care and the world fails us. It can be seen when you start to feel irate from answering emails, or when things that you used to enjoy start to become dull. Burnout is when you can start feeling the weight of what you carry on your shoulders and it becomes unbearable. You want to take a break but it’s almost impossible unless you have the time, money, lack of family obligations, etc. to disconnect from the world.

What to do?

Self care has to be just more than small gestures we use to escape. It has to include the care we put into ourselves for the long term. The ugly side of self care is often the chores/activities that we need to do that will benefit our lives in the long run, such as updating your resume, meal prepping, or budgeting for the next month. Much less exciting than taking a bubble bath and bingeing Netflix. The hard truth is that many of us are stuck in a system that we cannot escape. Many of us will have to work for the majority of our lives in order to survive. When it comes to this, self care also means extending that care to our communities as well. In order for us to fix a broken system that is leaving us burnout, those with enough energy and privilege have to be involved and care for the people around us as well. It can start with a ballot box, volunteering in your community, or donating money to a good cause.

Individual Support

Therapy, for those that can afford it, is a viable option for those suffering from burnout. Attending therapy is a form of self care that you are committing yourself to. Therapy can help give you support during difficult times, and also help guide you through decisions. It can also help you to better manage anxiety and depression, which can all be symptoms of burnout.