Opinion: I’m Quitting Self-Care


A few months ago, I had a little bit of a mama meltdown. Not because my newborn approached his four-month sleep regression with the stealthy commitment of a tiny terrorist. Nor was it because my three-year-old decided that he, "Really just doesn't have anything left to learn at preschool," so screamed without reprieve in the three hours that fell between waking and drop off. Or because of the endless laundry, dishes and cooking that we mums (and a few good dads) know to be the universal truth of an epic meltdown just waiting to happen...

No, my mother meltdown was because of a foam roller. You see, having been on maternity leave for a few months, with plenty of time between the hours of 1am and 5am to peruse the internet like it’s nobody’s business, I had developed a bit of an obsessive crush on Gwyneth Paltrow and all things Goop. Why I chose the mother of all wellness to be my muse at a time when my greatest healthy activity was opting for decaf on coffee #3, is beyond me. It was really never going to end well, was it?

Despite my better judgement, I devoured the weekly Goop newsletters and dove into GP’s musings with all the enthusiasm of a willing convert. It was exhausting, but it would be worth it. Surely Goop’s brand of self-care and self-improvement would see me emerge as a glowing, more holistic version of myself with a capsule wardrobe and alphabetised pantry to boot?

I found that a day in the life of someone committed to their self-care involves:
– 28 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, depending on your brand of online trainer, to keep your body fit and toned.
– 10 minutes of dry body brushing. To do something that I forgot very quickly because it hurt.
– 15 minutes of a mask for your face, décolletage, feet or hair. For shine and softness everywhere.
– 30 minutes of foam rolling to stimulate the lymphatic system and reduce cellulite.
– 30 minutes of meditation. For mental clarity.
– 10 minutes of gratitude practice. For good vibes.
– 10 minutes of journaling. For manifesting your best life.
– 30 minutes of meal and smoothie preparation. For tomorrow’s you.

Do you want me to continue? No, this does not include family, work (ha!) or the various time-consuming elements that make up the day of a modern woman. No, it doesn’t add up for me either.

So perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise that it all came crashing down quite spectacularly. After months of committing to the habits that were going to change my world, it was the foam roller that pushed me over the edge. As 10pm closed in on the end of a busy day, I stared at this piece of torture equipment and realised that my 30 minutes of rolling was not going to happen. Not today, not ever. My legs would be destined to a fate of cellulite, and I’d officially let myself go. Cue meltdown.

A glass of wine and a dose of perspective later, I realised that the damned foam roller was just another one of modern society’s “self-care” practices, that actually result in a whole lot of self-loathing when we can’t get around to making them happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for “filling up your own cup, so that you can pour from it for others.” However, with the frenetic rise of meditations, mantras and wellness influencers, it seems that self-care has become a competitive sport. For a frantic overachiever (yep, hello!), it’s become just another thing to tick off the day’s to-do list. As if we don’t have enough on that list already.

So, I can now safely say I have given up on self-care. At least, on the Instagram-worthy, Goop-style brand of it. For me, an occasional manicure, weekly yoga class and trip to a good café (sans babies) is going to have to cut it. Farewell, foam roller.

Words: Amy Malpass Hahn |Image: Trish Lee