5 warning signs that your self-care has become toxic

anxiety help selfcare work May 13, 2021

5 warning signs that your self-care has become toxic


Self-care is on everyone’s lips these days.  Bubble baths.  Saying no to everything.  More yoga.  Advocate time and space for mental health.  These things are important and what needs to be done.


In Kindred, our definition of self-care is boundaries.  Boundaries are me respecting you, you respecting me, and then me respecting me and you respecting you.


But how to do you know when the strength of boundaries and self-care becomes a weakness?  When it goes from a great aid in life to being detrimental and self-sabotaging?


Here are the five signs to know when your self-care has become toxic:

1). When it stops or prevents you from enjoying experiences.  When we first start with self-care, the discipline that’s needed for it to become a daily habit is important but then it can get to a point where we don’t have any flexibility or we don’t allow ourselves to do ANYTHING until our self-care has been completed.  Do you find yourself using it as an excuse? Do you find yourself NEEDING to do it before you can enjoy anything else? Are you being inflexible about when it happens that stops you from doing other things?

2). When it starts causing you physical injury.  This happens when we start focusing on our physical self-care (either with exercise or what we’re nutritionally consuming) but then we get hyper-focused on what needs to be ‘fixed’ or that we push so hard with the physical self-care that we end up with a physical injury.  Do you find yourself always injured after starting a work-out regimen? Do you find yourself being overly restrictive with nutrition plans and/or supplements? Do you find yourself feeling physically worse when you focus everything on feeling physically better?

3). Using self-care to manipulate an outcome for a particular goal.  For example, if I focus on my self-care, then I will book a client/manifest the house or job/my soulmate will appear.   We are using self-care as a manipulation tactic to get what we want instead of using self-care as it’s intention which is to work on ourselves and then the byproduct is this amazing thing in your life.  Do you find yourself thinking that if maybe you go to this yoga class than you’ll meet your soul mate? Or by the time I have a bubble bath there better be an email about a client scheduling a session? 

4.) Using self-care as a reward system for behaviour/tendencies.   Another bargaining tool that we can use is to be able to use self-care as a reason or an excuse behind another behaviour.  A classic example of this is eating well or clean all week long and then binging on junk food on the weekend.  We mentally think “well I was GOOD all week so now I deserve this” or “I was really good about not spending money this week so now I’m going to treat myself with this” or “I’ve booked all of these clients so now I deserve some time off”.

5). Self-care as a punishment.  This is where we’re convincing ourselves that the self-care that we’re doing is a form of loving ourselves.  What we’re actually doing is using self-care  to get rid of the guilt or shame we have around a certain situation.  This is where we start to think that self-care or self-love with be the answer to all of our problems instead of it being a tool to aid us in healing through the actual problem.  Do you think that your self-care is a form of self-love ? Do you think that this is what you NEED to do in order to be a better person?


Look at where you’re taking your self-care tendencies just over the unhealthy mark and where you’re mentally making excuses for what you’re doing to be ‘okay’ versus making it mentally make logical sense.