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When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

Self-care

Self-care is characterized as a market for purchasable experiences like massages, manicures, and "me time."

The origins are in secular rituals meant to calm the nervous system. It is focused on doing anything that might make someone feel good.

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When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/style/self-care/when-did-self-help-become-self-care.html

nytimes.com

7

Key Ideas

Wellness

Wellness has been popularly understood as an extension of self-help, a category that is all about personal optimization and productivity.

More recently, wellness has been marketed as self-care. It is softer and more forgiving.

Self-help

Self-help is far removed from self-care. Self-help is about fixing something while self-care thinks you're already great.

The trendy self-help is linked with business management and entrepreneurialism. Self-help seeks to categorize and instruct.

Spiritual self-help

Much of the wellness content is gestural - establishing boundaries, going to the doctor, doing less.

There is an overlapping section between self-help and self-care that could be categorized as "spiritual self-help." Spiritual self-help wants to fix less often and focuses on understanding and calm, much like self-care.

The Leaders and Vendors

The authorities of a self-help wellness sell a specific program to live by and include exercise alphas as well as diet gurus.

Other wellness entrepreneurs serve the kinds of people who want spirituality and connection, and self-awareness along with physical care.

Authority vs. the Me-Archy

Many newer wellness products are direct-to-consumer and include custom vitamins from subscription services, as well as curated boxes filled with candles and jade rollers.

While self-help-styled wellness involves orthodox top-down, rules-based wellness, newer self-care wellness is an easy sell through human design, snail-mucus face masks, or whatever works.

The Marketing

While self-help wellness products came from the health-food store with practical or medicinal packaging, self-care wellness products often look like a new kind of high-end beauty product.

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Some self-help is terr...

Knowledge and wisdom
  • A knowledgeable person can solve a narrow set of problems that few can, like a neurosurgeon.
  • A wise person knows what to do in most situations. She is able to give out general purpose, one-size-fits-all advice. Wisdom is very easy to understand. However, it is very difficult to apply in real life.
Self-help through the wisdom lens

The purpose of self-help is to acquire wisdom. Self-help books are filled with wisdom. 

It embarrasses us because it's full of easy truisms. We like it because it makes sense. It's trivial to read but nearly impossible to put into practice. That is why we feel so inspired when reading about it.

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"Being spiritual" nowadays signals:
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Spirituality is a framework for understanding the world. It enables people to make sense of that which, for them, science and religion fail to address: religion because it's outdated and out of touch with scientific progress, science because it's incapable to answer some of life's most crucial questions (of purpose, meaning and value).

Outer Space vs. Inner Space

The Dalai Lama once joked: "While the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space". 

Regardless of the veracity of this, it does seem that for contemporary western societies, silence and stillness are an exception, not the rule.

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This mandatory Quarantine mode, which can last for weeks or months, is making us more dependent on anything and everything online, with smartphones being the potential gateway to online mental health care.