How do I create a work-life balance in my stressful life when I have no time for myself? I tend to everyone else's needs, leaving me exhausted and burned out by the end of the day.”
Sadly, this is the typical American's response to why they lack time for self-care. To gain a large-scale perspective of our nation's issue, let's look at the stats below:
1 in 4 Americans has a mental health disorder and many of these go untreated.
81% of Americans do not exercise enough
More than 1/3 of Americans are obese.
Changing our lifestyle can seem overwhelming, but if we break it down into simple steps, it becomes much more manageable to create change.
Remember, a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.
Self-care starts with acknowledging you are responsible for yourself, and if you don't look after you, no one will. When you take care of your own feelings, you won't project them onto others, act badly or cause problems in relationships. Taking care of your own needs allows you to function in a more relaxed and grounded way. All areas of your life will improve once you take time to nurture yourself.
Here are some warning signs that you're neglecting self-care and are experiencing "burn-out," a state of chronic stress:
Exhaustion Constant tiredness and fatigue
Anxiety and Worry
Lack of Motivation
Short Temper and irritability
A generally negative attitude paired with the feeling that nothing is going to work out
Feeling disengaged, disconnected and checked-out
A lack of interest in social activities and being with others
Feelings of detachment from people and things you care about (Neglecting family or friends)
Your mind won't shut off to allow relaxation
Inability to concentrate
Feelings of stagnation
Feeling depressed constantly
Negative and self-sabotaging thoughts
Low self-worth and lack of confidence
Feelings of emptiness
No time to do what makes you happy (all work, no play)
Neglecting your needs and prioritizing others' needs ahead of your own.
Difficulty with sticking to healthy habits like exercise, diet and regular sleep
Chronic illness and health issues (colds, infections, unexplained health problems)
Being preoccupied with work when you're at home, which creates an issue for you to relax and recover from your workday.
Why We Are Resistant to Self-Care?
1. If you didn't grow up learning the importance of self-care or witnessed overworked parents, this becomes your guide for adult life. We may have seen loved ones prioritize work and others' needs before their own and feel this is the "normal" way to live.
2. There is a misconception with self-care vs. selfishness. Let's look at the two meanings to understand the difference.
“Selfish" is choosing to consistently only think of your own needs and wants. It's a singular perspective not considering another's wellbeing. Selfishness never yields joy, peace or love; it creates an internal and external experience of isolation and loneliness. It does not create the ability to share, nurture or serve.
"Self-care" is choosing to honor your inner wants and needs in order to fulfill your potential, discover your purpose and experience joy. Sometimes this requires putting yourself ahead of others. Self-care allows for more sharing and nurturing because there is plenty to give without feeling depleted or exhausted. Self-care allows you to serve others well because you have acknowledged your own worth and cultivated ways to fill and refill well.
3. You may be struggling with low self-esteem and feel "You're not worth it". Poor self-image results in neglect and self-sabotage.
How you treat yourself is how you're inviting others to treat you. By taking care of yourself, you start to build confidence and surround yourself with like-minded, healthy people.
Developing A Self-Care Mindset
To create a self-care routine, we need to develop our mindset, setting positive intentions with our new routine. Creating a healthy mindset is an investment in your overall wellbeing. Below are crucial shifts to achieve your self-care goals:
Take time to define your vision and passions
Become clear and precise about what you want; continually reinforce your motivation
Make a plan for achieving your goals and set a start date
Embrace discipline to follow daily habits and become aware of distractions
Decide each day to take three small steps towards your dream life
The Transformative Power of Self-Care
Self-care is about nurturing yourself on all levels, namely physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, in order to live your best life. With a healthy routine, you begin to experience inner validation. This confidence is what helps to establish a strong sense of self-worth. Knowing your worth coincides with achieving life goals, going after your dreams and living a fulfilled life with purpose and passion. You will start to attract positive people who are goal-driven and are open to change and growth.
With self-care, your mind becomes more calm and relaxed, allowing you to make logical decisions. You will renew and restore your energy, so you're able to withstand life's stressors in a healthy manner. Honoring and nurturing yourself will lead to profound spiritual and personal growth, feeling connected to yourself and your purpose.
When you choose to reframe your beliefs around self-care, a profound shift will emerge. You will let go of resentment, stop being a victim of others' demands, experience joy and happiness and experience the quality of your relationships skyrocket.
Success comes when you have the strength and courage to look at all components of your life and admit your weaknesses (i.e. personal self-care, having a passionate marriage, pursuing hobbies, chasing your dream job, being there for your family). It’s important to be honest with yourself, taking an inventory of which areas of your life need improvement. To be straight forward, having discipline and balance is key.
I know for a fact, people want to live their best life now. Our later years are never promised, so choose to push past your comfort zone for continuous growth. The only way to change your life is to be highly committed to an outcome, taking decisive action. It is having the mindset of a leader, being able to take command of your life.
If you fail at a task or goal, simply adjust. Find a positive angle and ask, “What is the lesson here, how can I use this information to grow?” Being positive will save your life. You either win or learn. Never failing, always finding lessons to be learned.
Self-care Ideas to Kickstart Your New Routine
Don't check your email or social media within one hour of waking
Meditation or Yoga, even just 10 minutes in the morning or evening
Sign up for a new hobby
Talk a walk outside
Create a healthy sleep routine
Write three things you're grateful for each day
Say no to events that stretch you too thin
Clean and organize your house or a room
Take a bath
Read a book or listen to an audiobook
Cuddle with your pet
Cook yourself a nice meal
Create a safe space at home that's meant for pure relaxation
Write yourself an accomplishment list at the end of each day, celebrating your achievements
Schedule self-care time throughout your week
Leave room to relax and have fun
Call a friend or loved one who makes you smile
Be activate and celebrate your accomplishments after each workout
Journal your thoughts and feelings to gain an outside perspective
Don't waste anymore time, get started with our self-care practices today to soothe your mind, body and soul.
A HEALTHY MIND CREATES A HEALTHY LIFE
-Trish French, MSW, CAP, LCSW