How to Get Past These 3 Roadblocks to an Effective Self Care Practice
Do you ever feel frustrated that you seem to fall at the very bottom of your own to-do list? What gives? Why do we have a habit of doing this? I mean, it’s your list, right? Surely you can take the liberty of arranging it however you want to. The truth is, when it comes to our own wellness most of us don’t do a great job of making our own mental health a priority. Let’s take a look at three common “roadblocks” and reframe our thinking.
1. “I don’t have time.”
If you don’t make time for your wellness you’ll be forced to make time for your illness. Self care is a way of being proactive. If we don’t make relatively consistent good choices with respect to our physical health we know it’ll eventually catch up with us, right? The same is absolutely true with our mental health. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment – consistency is more important. Self care doesn’t mean you’re taking every Friday off to hit the spa. It might be a nice thought but maintaining that as a routine long-term might not be practical. Instead, try to carve out a few minutes here and there throughout the day where you press the pause button. It could be as simple as stepping outside to take a few mindful breaths of fresh air or going to bed ten minutes earlier than usual. The first step is shifting your mindset and taking some tangible step to make your mental wellbeing a priority each and every day.
2. “I feel guilty.”
In what world would I say to a friend I’m having dinner with, “Oh gee, I’m not sure what to order – I was thinking about getting a salad but I feel badly for considering it. I’ll probably just go with a burger and fries instead.” We don’t usually feel guilty for being proactive about our physical health – in fact, I give myself a real pat on the back when I make a healthy meal choice or pry myself off the couch and on to the treadmill – but unfortunately society tends to look at mental health and physical health differently. It’s time to ditch the guilt! I’ve heard parents describe feeling guilty putting their own needs first or taking time for themselves when they feel their kids might need or want their attention. Taking care of your mental health is actually one of the most selfless things you can do. It puts you in a frame of mind that allows you to bring your best self to your relationships, your family, your friends, your work and the world.
3. “I don’t understand what self care is, exactly.”
Just like many people don’t recognize signs within themselves that their mental health is declining, due to lack of practice lots of folks don’t have a sense of what’s effective when they need to mentally decompress. Self care isn’t just about bubble baths, spa days, meditation or other zen images that might pop into your mind when you hear the term "self care". It’s highly individual and there’s an element of trial and error in finding what feels restorative for you. I call it “adopting a self care practice” because it takes practice for it to be effective! Be open to exploring different strategies and tune in to what works for you. Check out these 50 simple ways to unwind!
Have I tackled some of the excuses you were making that pushed self care further down your list of priorities? I hope so! If you needed a sign from the universe, this is it: self care is vital and you need to make space for it in your life. Once you do, you’ll feel better and wonder why you’d been neglecting it. Make it a habit and never look back.
Thanks for reading… Now get to it! Have a great week, my friends.
Elizabeth Eldridge is a Psychological Health & Safety Consultant based in southern New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to frequent keynote speaking and corporate training on mental health she is the owner/operator of Arpeggio Health Services, Atlantic Canada’s largest provider of public mental health trainings. Learn more at elizabetheldridge.com, summitcorporatewellness.com and arpeggiohealthservices.com.