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Rethinking Self-Care

May/03/2024 / by Team Seema

Dr. Pooja Lakshmin challenges old thinking around how woman take care of themselves

In a world that often equates self-care with bubble baths and green juices, Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist and author of the book Real Self-Care is challenging the narrative. Her groundbreaking approach to self-care goes beyond the superficial, focusing on deeper, but often more challenging internal work. 

Dr. Lakshmin argues that the self-care industry has been co-opted by capitalism, selling women quick fixes that fail to address the root causes of their stress and exhaustion. “You can’t meditate yourself out of a 40-hour work week with no childcare. That’s not how wellness is supposed to work,” Dr. Lakshmin recently shared on the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast. Women instead are often sold more things to buy, like essential oils, and taught to self-blame if they didn’t make it to the gym or yoga. 

Instead, women can reframe the narrative around self-care, and focus on internal changes that can help restore their own sense of agency and peace. Here are a few ways women can start taking those first steps: 

Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
  • Set Boundaries. Dr. Lakshmin encourages women to pause before responding to requests, giving themselves space to consider their own needs and values. This pause, she says, is where true agency lies.
  • Practice Self-Compassion. Women are often their own harshest critics, but learning to speak to ourselves with kindness and understanding is essential for our well-being. This includes recognizing that we are not our thoughts or feelings, and allowing ourselves to receive help and support from others.
  • Curate Your Core Values. By understanding the ways of being that bring meaning and fulfillment to our lives, we can create a more sustainable decision-making process that doesn’t leave us exhausted by things we don’t actually care about. These core values, which can range from creativity to community to balance, serve as a compass for our choices and actions.

By embracing real self-care, women can begin to shift the dynamics of their relationships, workplaces, and communities. As Dr. Lakshmin reminds us, “Self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”


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