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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Eldridge

Knock Down the Barriers to an Effective Self Care Routine

Self care: yeah, yeah, we all know how important it is to be proactive about our mental health. Research tells us taking a mental time-out is a key component of resilience, and one of our most effective tools to manage stress, maintain a balanced mood and avoid burnout… so why don’t we do it? Let’s take a look at three common barriers to a regular self care practice.

1. “I don’t have time.”

If you don’t make time for wellness, you may end up having to make time for illness. When that happens we don’t have a choice. Self care doesn’t have to be a giant time investment. To start building it in to your routine a good place to start is prioritizing just a few minutes a day of “me time”. Sit for a moment with your eyes closed first thing in the morning to set your intention for the day, go to bed early with a good book or take a break from work to give a pet some love (my personal favourite). Like building any new habit you’ll likely have to be strategic about making time for it in the early stages, so you might find it helpful to make a note in your day planner or set a reminder on your phone.

2. “I feel guilty putting myself first.”

Guilt is a huge barrier for many of us. Many of the roles we take on have conditioned to serve others first and tend to our own needs last. Parenting would be a good example of this. Not only does taking care of yourself enhance your quality of life, it also allows you to bring your best self to your relationships and tasks. It’s OK to acknowledge our own needs, and modelling this may help those around you to do the same. Give yourself permission to carve out some time to fill up your mental gas tank. If you’re having a hard time justifying it, remember that it’ll have a positive impact on those around you, too. Self care isn’t selfish.

3. “It doesn’t really work for me.”

Self care isn’t a magical cure-all. Make sure your expectations are realistic and understand that it takes time to see the benefits. If a normally sedentary person decides to become more physically active they’re probably not going to feel healthier immediately after their first workout. Adopting a true routine, where you’re engaging in self care on a regular basis, will yield positive results over time. As you reap the rewards maintaining the routine becomes easier too, just like what often happens with having a physical workout routine – you don’t always feel like doing it but experience tells you you’ll feel better if you turn off the Netflix and go for that walk!

Unsure of where to start? This is one of my very favourite self care resources because the suggestions are simple – most of them minimal time commitments, free and easy to access.

Print it off, pop it on your fridge and challenge yourself by setting a specific goal, like doing three things off the list until you’ve checked them all off; or start your own list! Making space for self care isn’t without its challenges but it’s well worth the effort.


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, and


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