You're sick of feeling overwhelmed, and like you're not living your best life, so you keep coming back to the idea, if I could consistently practice self-care, I'd feel better. Research shows that you're not alone, 71 percent of Americans are not satisfied with their current state of health. But practicing self-care consistently is hard.
It's challenging to find the time. Between work, family obligations, and social commitments, there's never enough hours in the day. And yet, the fact remains the same, self-care is crucial for longevity, wellness, and if you want to feel your best.
So what stops you from making time for yourself? Today you'll learn what self-care is, common misconceptions, and identify the five key factors that prevent you from practicing self-care regularly.
Stick around until the end because we help you take action. You'll discover the top five self-care strategies, learn how to work self-care into your daily routine with ease, and build your own self-care plan.
5 Things That Get Between You and Self-Care
- Lack of time
- Your brain tricks you into believing you can wait to worry about your health until you're (way) older.
- You feel guilty taking the time.
- Lack of energy.
- Fear - You're scared of what you may or may not discover when you slow down and spend quiet time with yourself.
Now that you have the overview, let's dive in to understand each reason more intimately. By the end, you know what gets in your way, but you'll also have strategies to push through and finally maintain a healthy self-care practice.
What Is Considered Self-Care?
Self-care is any activity you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. However, it's often misunderstood as something that takes resources like big chunks of time and money.
On the contrary, self-care can be as simple as going outside for five minutes and watching the clouds. Eating a nutritious meal. Drinking more water, going to bed at a reasonable time, and having screen time limits are all free to implement.
What Are The 3 Main Types Of Self-Care?
There are several ways to care for yourself, but we will stick to the three main types of self-care for this article: physical, emotional, and mental.
Physical Self-Care involves taking care of your body. This can include getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Emotional Self-Care involves taking care of your emotions. This can include practicing mindfulness, increasing self-awareness, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and setting healthy boundaries.
Mental Self-Care involves taking care of your mental health. This can include practicing meditation, getting therapy, and learning how to manage stress.
Why Should I Practice Self-Care?
Self-care is the number one way to combat lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 71 percent of all deaths globally are to do lifestyle diseases.
Self-care is essential for our physical, mental, and emotional health. When we take care of ourselves, we can function at our best and be there for the people who matter most to us. Additionally, practicing self-care can help reduce stress, improve our moods, and increase our life expectancy.
Top 5 Common Self-Care Misconceptions
The first misconception is that self-care is selfish. This could not be further from the truth. If you do not take care of yourself, how can you care for others?
The second misconception is that self-care is expensive. While some self-care activities can cost money, there are plenty of ways to practice self-care that are free.
The third misconception is that self-care is time-consuming. While some self-care activities may take time, there are plenty of ways to fit self-care into your busy schedule. You can go for a walk around the block, watch an inspiring TedTalk, sit outside for five minutes and breathe.
The fourth misconception is that self-care is only for women. This makes me sad, and I think of how hard my dad worked, how hard my husband works, and now raising a son; I want to make sure he knows the benefits of practicing self-care and that self-care is for everyone.
The fifth and final misconception is that self-care is only for people with mental health concerns. Sadly there is a stigma to this. Much like self-care can be considered selfish, there also seems to be a misconception that those that step away and take breaks are weak and can't withstand the stresses of daily life.
Practicing self-care for our mental health is a preventative measure. Those who partake experience lower stress levels, increased emotional well-being, and decreased depression and anxiety symptoms.
Now that we understand what self-care is, the common misconceptions, and some interesting statistics, let's look closer at the five factors that prevent you from your self-care practice.
Factors That Prevent Self-Care #1: Lack of Time
Hands up if this is you; you have too many to-dos to have time to put into yourself? Between work, running your home, aging parents, and everything else that piles on, leisure time is a luxury you don't have.
Not to mention the underlying pressure to keep up with strangers on the internet and that super distracting thing we hold in our hands; it's no wonder we blink, and it's bedtime.
Human Beings Are Not Built To Be This Busy
You believe what you do is normal; doing all things for everyone is what everyone does, so it's okay, it's not. Human beings were not meant to run on cortisol and caffeine. And everyone that does for long enough reaches this exact point, where you are searching for an answer to the question you keep whispering in your head, is this as good as it gets? But before you can sit with that thought too long, Door Dash arrives, your kid needs something signed for school, and just like that the hustle continues.
Who Told Us To Grind This Hard?
Working ourselves into the ground has been a growing problem for decades. What began as a simple media campaign to get Americans to work more spread like cancer when social media hit the scene. The American dream slogan used to be that you can have it all later if you work hard now. With the help of social media that mutated into, have it all right now, do it all (if you can keep up), and look incredibly blissful doing it (because if you don't post about it, did it happen?).
The message should be, to have an authentically blissed out life, have some things, work less (because you have less debt), and oh yea posting on social is optional.
The Little Device That You're Holding Is A Thief Of Moments
Besides working hard for your loved ones, you have another thing designed to steal your time; it's how you're reading this article right now, your phone.
Phones are incredible; they allow us to video call our family from basically anywhere in the world, keep in touch with our kids when they are away from home, and look up an answer to any question you have with a click of a button. Phones are magnificent.
And then you have social applications on your phone that are designed to keep you on as long as possible. Have you ever opened your phone to check your notifications, not realizing 30 minutes had passed? That's what I am referring to. The fact that you can get lost in your phone doesn't happen by accident, and for most American, that is how they spend their free time.
Take Action: If lack of time is the most significant factor preventing you from practicing consistent self-care, start by setting boundaries around your time. Only say yes to things that matter to you.
Check-in with how many extra activities your kids are in. More than one at a time (per kid) can be a bit much --for both the kid and parents, try slimming down the extracurriculars or joining up with other parents and carpooling.
Last, set applications timers on your phone. That way, you can enter the online world with ease, knowing that your timer will tell you when it's been 15-minutes and time to click off. This action alone will free up so much time by the end of your week.
Just A Thought
If the average person spends five hours a day on their phone (not doing work), that would mean that they have spent 35 hours sitting, looking down at a screen by the end of the week. Think of all the things they could do with that 35 hours a week. They could work on stress management, boost their immune system, and develop habits that help them live a longer life.
Factors That Prevent Self-Care #2: My Brain Tricks Me Into Believing That I Can Wait Until I'm Older.
A recent study reports that 63 percent of Americans say they will worry about their health when they are older, and this concerns me. Even though we can't see the cell damage, we have to know that our unhealthy habits are causing wear and tear on our body and that is accumulating over time.
Why Isn't Proactive Health Care Top Of Mind?
It's not a popular thing. Sadly, our culture is more reactionary-based, meaning we will try and fix the damage once it's done with a medical procedure or a pill.
Take Action: Start a simple routine like waking up 30 minutes early and walking outside. You will see many positive benefits to this one change in your lifestyle.
Factors Prevent Self-Care #3: I Feel Guilty
Feeling guilty when you take time for yourself isn't a new phenomenon. It's hard to stop all the doing when there is so much to get done, and it stinks to leave the family to spend time with yourself. And so we have guilt.
I want you to look at self-care differently and see if it helps relieve the guilty feelings. If you are a parent and feel guilty leaving your kids, I want you to remember that you are their role model. That means if you show them that it's healthy to take time for yourself, they will grow up and also take time to nurture themselves.
If you feel guilty because you have so much to do and don't feel worthy enough to stop, you have some inner work to do. First of all, let's address self-worth; you were born worthy. You were born worthy of experiencing all that life has to offer when you took your first breath. You can't add to your worth or deduct from your worth.
So the feeling that you are not worthy of being taken care of needs to be looked at remedied, and when you do, you will have an incredibly joyful life.
The key is acceptance of this; I was born worthy. If you can't shake it, consider reaching out to get some help from a licensed psychologist.
Take Action: Practicing saying I am worthy of all life has to offer, daily in front of the mirror as you are getting ready.
Factors That Prevent Self-Care #4: Lack Of Energy
All the running and doing is exhausting, so you're tired by the time you go to care for yourself. But here is the cool thing: by implementing a few of the practices you have already learned, your energy levels will only rise—simple things like being more aware of your time and moving your body daily.
Take Action: Turn off your phone 90 minutes before bed. This will help prepare your brain for a night of quality sleep. After a weeks time evaluate how much your energy levels have improved.
Factors That Prevent Self-Care #5: Fear
After college, things become a blur. You land the job, partner up, build the family, and here we are. In hitting life's significant milestones, it's normal, especially for women, to lose your identity. So much that when it's time to care for yourself, you don't even know what you like anymore. And that's unsettling.
It can feel scary to slow down and look at yourself when it's been a while. And it's necessary. After growing up, you get to rediscover who you are now and this should not be feared.
Take Action: Below, when we talk about starting your self-care plan, you will see that there are many ideas to try out that will reacquaint you with yourself.
How To Start A Self-Care Routine (That's Realistic)
Now that we've discussed some of the main factors that prevent us from practicing self-care, let's talk about how we can start a realistic self-care routine. Here are a few tips:
- Start small. Don't try to do too much at once. Pick one or two things that you can do each day.
- Set a schedule. Choose specific days and times for your self-care activities. For example, you could plan to take a bath on Mondays and go for a walk on Wednesdays.
- Find a support system. Ask your friends or family members to help you with your self-care routine. They can provide encouragement and accountability.
Practicing self-care can be difficult, but it's essential for our overall health and well-being. By taking small steps, you can make a huge difference in how you feel.
What Are 5 Self-Care Strategies?
There are many different self-care strategies that you can use to improve your sense of well-being. Here are five of the most popular ones:
Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost your energy levels.
Eating healthy: Eating a healthy diet can help you feel your best and improve your overall health.
Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Getting enough rest can help you feel more alert and energized during the day.
Spending time with loved ones: Spending time with people who make you happy can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you focus on the present moment and improve your mental well-being.
3 Easy Self-Care Tips For Busy People
If you're feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start, here are a few self-care tips for busy people:
Self-Care Quick Tip #1: Schedule time for yourself: Set aside some time each day that can be used for anything from reading a book to taking a bath.
Self-Care Quick Tip #2: Make time for activities that make you happy: Doing things that make you happy can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Self-Care Quick #3: Say no to things that don't serve you: Learning to say no is essential for self-care.
Self-Care Practices That Fit Your Lifestyle
You've learned why it's hard to stay consistent with a self-care practice; now, let's take what we have learned and put it into further action. Below is our free step-by-step guide to building your very own self-care plan.
In three easy steps, you'll carve out time each day to practice self-care, pick out a self-care activity from the list provided, and schedule it into your planner. This exercise will take you no more than 20 minutes to complete, and you will have 30 days of self-care pre-planned for the next month.
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