Give Yourself a Non-Toxic Self-Care Day

Have you found yourself falling into a deep rabbit hole of posts or videos that show off beautiful aesthetics of self-care, featuring products that likely cost more than the total amount you would spend in a week? The aggressively calm music and dizzying array of face masks, face serums, and nightly routines can seem intoxicating, but could also be draining in reality. 

It’s spectacular to love oneself and pursue that healthy glow, but we must also be mindful of the line between trends and mental wellness which grows continually thinner.

Self-care is healthy. There is also a point at which it becomes toxic. As we often say here at IMPERIA, self-care is about more than a home spa day (and trust, we do love a home spa day). 

Long-lasting and true self-care, however, begins with saying no to things that don’t align with who you are. Trends change, and social media creates superstar makeup brands that reach the stratosphere and then crash (hello, Morphe), so today’s “it” product might be tomorrow’s bargain-bin sell-off. 

Self-care is a broad category, and includes our mental, emotional, and physical wellness. Yes to a jade roller and a quiet afternoon to oneself. Let’s not feel like failures if that time to oneself is sacrificed to the altar of a 20-step serum routine, but if you can put on a charcoal mask and read your favorite book in solitude, you are truly living your best life.

To be mindful of the easy traps of what we think of as Toxic Self-Care, here are some mantras we gently suggest you ignore:  

The “Right” Products Are the Answer 

There’s no guarantee those beauty hauls will make you feel great 100% of the time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with treating yourself, as long as you don’t equate it to an end-all-be-all of self-care. If face masks are your favorite indulgence, go ahead and stock up, but don’t chastise yourself if you aren’t doing them weekly. And if you’ve got a stack of them in the closet (we know…a friend who has this), start using them before buying more!  

“Positive Vibes Only”

It’s a crime to feel down or sad or just not at your best, right? News flash: This hashtag needs to go the way of the dodo. It’s OK to have all your feelings (have you looked at the world lately?), and toxic positivity is a real thing. Our friend (and someone we admire enormously) Susan David, PhD, talked about false positivity in her famous TED talk, then was a guest on Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast talking about the phenomenon of toxic positivity. Take a listen and enjoy feeling all your feelings. 

(Superficial) Self-Care is Everything

Self-care is amazing — it’s a respite from a hectic life, and critically important, but superficial self-care should never be a replacement for something, especially something like mental health services. Talking to a therapist is better care than anything you can do yourself, and mental wellness is only just starting to be recognized as a critical piece of self-care. Facing your problems head on, whether by yourself or with the help of someone like a friend or therapist, is critically important to your well-being.

Everything Happens for a Reason

There’s nothing like feeling powerless in the face of the universe, no? Whether or not the universe is an entity that affects outcomes, we need to go a bit deeper here to make a difference for ourselves. Even if The Universe Did It, what were the earthly and human machinations at play? This enables us to examine a ‘’what’s next?” and create better outcomes for next time. So yes, maybe that deal didn’t work out, but did you set yourself up powerfully? Do your homework? Walk in there with confidence? This puts the empowerment and action back in your court.

Be Yourself

This message has the best of intentions, but sometimes goes sideways. Certainly, you don’t have to change yourself to fit into anyone’s standards, but it can be a double-edged sword. Being yourself doesn’t mean not working on yourself at all. It doesn’t mean hanging on to toxic habits and thoughts and demanding the world just deal with you. ”This is just who I am, and if you don’t like it, you can leave.” (We’ve all met someone like that.) That mentality and the behavior it inspires is a defense mechanism, not true self-care — though it is cleverly disguised as such. So yes, be yourself — and also be responsible for the impact you have on those around you with your behavior. 

In the end, your self-care is very personal, because, well, it’s all about you. Which means it’s your responsibility as well. And while it might comprise a mix of things particular to you, self-care begins with knowing what you need, and being able to articulate that to yourself and others. 

It might be helpful to take a few moments to write those down, given where you are right now:

What do you need?
What does that look like?
Who can you ask for support?
Where do you need to say “no” more?

If that last question makes you cringe, you might need to do some work on your boundaries. If so, see Jennifer’s important advice to Defend the Perimeter.


Self-Care Sunday is devoted to you, with advice, insights, and tools to create true self-care, which goes beyond a home spa day. Not that there’s anything wrong with a home spa day. We’re in the bubble bath typing this right now.

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