Why Self-Care is Considered a Privilege

Yup. It is.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Having the ability, time, energy, knowledge and resources to practice self-care is definitely considered a privilege.

When you Google the word ‘privilege’, it is described as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or; available only to a particular person or group of people.

Sometimes when folks hear the word ‘privilege’, chills are sent up their spine. It is a word that brings a lot to the forefront, especially when we talk about discrimination, racism, sexism and a host of other ‘isms.

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But it is important to recognize this fact when we talk about the practice of self-care, self-love and building a healthy relationship with yourself. Because there are many folks that would like to practice self-care, but are not able to at this time.

First, there are those who do not have access to the practice of self-care.

Think for a moment where and when you first heard the term self-care. Was it on social media? In a classroom? In your childhood?

The self-care movement is fairly young, even if the overall practice of it is not.

There are generations of people who did not have access to the tips, ideas and practices of self-care because it was not historically available to them. There is an educational component to learning about self-care and the different types of self-care. Some folks do not have access to that education.

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Not to mention that many self-care practices require money and time, and you truly cannot put a price on either! As much as this website strives to discuss and explore ways to practice self-care in zero to low cost ways, there’s no doubt that quite a few parts of practicing self-care requires a cost. And that cost is not one that is not accessible to everyone.

Then, there are others who are healing from emotional, psychological, generational or historical trauma.

We cannot forget that self-care for a great deal of people requires some sort of stability. Whether it be financial, physical, mental or emotional, the practice of identifying your needs is one that takes a certain level of steadfastness.

For people who are overcoming trauma, severe mental or physical health conditions or are living in environments where their primary focus must be on their survival, the practice of self-care may look very different from someone who is not balancing these tasks. Overcoming these hurdles is their primary and necessary focus that deserves to be respected.

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Every self-care space and practice was not created with everyone in mind.

As described in the work of the Balanced Black Girl podcast, there are many self-care and wellness spaces that were not created with every culture in mind. There are a variety of self-care practices that are not tailored to the emotional, physical and mental health needs of particular groups of people, including, but not limited to: parents (especially single parents), people of color, people whom are a part of LGBT communities, people of different age groups, people with different abilities, etc.

Many of us are a part of communities that are outside of the mainstream culture. Our communities have unique self-care needs, worthy of attention and care. For instance, how do you practice self-care for dealing with microaggressions?

If this is not a self-care need that impacts your life, then that is part of your privilege.

Practicing self-care may not be safe for everyone.

It is a privilege to be able to have private time to yourself at home, or take your entire lunch break at work. As we are recognizing in this blog, there are folks who do not have these opportunities to take care of themselves.

There are folks that may be punished for taking time for themselves. Or abused for choosing to prioritize their needs. Some self-care practices may come at an emotional cost. Therefore, self-preservation and survival are what “self-care” may look like for them.

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As a self-care blogger, it is imperative that I explore all aspects of the practice of self-care. This includes recognizing that self-care is not a practice that every person has the opportunity to do. This article only scratches the surface of the bigger picture of privilege and its impact on others. Though it is my intention to try to make self-care accessible for everyone, it is understandable that this will be a long-term goal.

On the spectrum of self-care accessibility, it’s important to recognize that there are many of us right now that are interrupting patterns of low self-worth, taking care of our mental health the best ways we know how and are putting energy into self-care, when generations before us were not able to do the same. And though it is a journey, we are doing the work to instill that our future families and communities become familiar with self-care too. 🙂

Here is what you can do to help make self-care more accessible to others:

  • Pause your judgement and turn on your curiosity
    • Be mindful of your privilege when you recommend or advise others to practice self-care. Remember that this practice typically requires education, accessibility, stability and safety.
  • Offer to practice self-care with others
    • If possible, create safe spaces for others to practice self-care by inviting them into your current practice or hosting opportunities for self-care to be a group activity.
  • Be a listening ear
    • There is such enriching healing in being listened to by another caring person. In recognizing your boundaries and capacity to be helpful to others, offer to listen to another person who may not have access to self-care and is going through conflict.

Do you consider practicing self-care to be a privilege?


  1. Ali, The Mindful Gardener says

    This is such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. There is definitely privilege attached to self-care. I think I only heard the term a year ago, though would have called it something different. There was a time in my life when I was just keeping my head above water and when you are in this survival mode you do not have room for self care. I suppose that’s when someone else’s kindness makes all the difference. I remember the people who offered kindness and I feel like they kept me alive and gave me hope. I hope that I pass that kindness on when I am near someone who is struggling. They don’t need more pressure to do x or x, just simple kindness. That gives the message they are worth something.

    • Michelle says

      This is such a meaningful reflection Ali, thank you for sharing. It is absolutely amazing how far kindness and consideration will go, especially during someone’s time of need. 🙂

  2. meandmystitch says

    Love this post; it really it home for me. Self-care is a privilege and I find that it does come at a cost when I practice self care. The couple of nights I get to the gym during the week make for long nights with also helping my child do homework and prepare for school the next day. I learned that I really NEED to work out because I was a much worse emotional/ mental/ physical space when I let mom guilt keep me from taking that small amount of time for myself. I have to weigh is this time/ money I’m taking for myself going to be worth what has piled up because I was unavailable? Sometimes it’s not and unfortunately sometimes you don’t figure it out beforehand. Very insightful post!

    • Michelle says

      Thank you Cheyenne! This makes perfect sense to me — I love your awareness of what you need. Mom guilt is real! I’m so glad that this post was helpful, I hope to continue writing and creating spaces where we can talk about these barriers to self-care. Sending positivity your way! 🙂

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