As a therapist in the UK, I’ve witnessed the rising culture of self-help, personal branding, and compulsory self-improvement taking a real toll on mental health lately. Social media floods us with messaging to meditate more, build better habits, manifest our dreams, regulate our emotions and level up our lives or else risk being left behind. It’s an exhausting treadmill of optimising the self through continual effort and discipline.

And it often backfires.

This incessant drive for progress leaves little room for simply being with ourselves, resting, and accepting our basic humanity. My clients come to me burnt out, anxious and plagued with self-judgment from buying into ideals of productivity. Their best is never seen as good enough. Behind curated online personas of blissful influencers, many suffer from disconnection, emptiness and profound fatigue.

We lose sight of what actually nurtures us. Small joys pass unseen, while every moment becomes commodified for likes and follows. Who benefits from these internalized demands for nonstop self-improvement? Certainly not our weary souls.

True self-care is not another box to tick off, but pausing to rediscover contentment in ordinary moments. It means tuning out the constant social comparison and remembering we are already whole. We can simply live without needing to relentlessly upgrade ourselves or manifest some filtered existence…already having everything we need inside.

Our culture equates laziness with any break taken in the relentless drive towards arbitrary definitions of success. But stillness is not slackness. Rest is itself sacred work. May we reclaim the lost art of simply being – liberated at last to enjoy brief interludes shut off from hyper-efficiency and harsh self-policing.

Permission granted to breathe easy…and just live.