Did you know there are a few sure-fire ways to guarantee that you will fail at your self-care? It’s not that we do these on purpose. It may be things you don’t even notice yourself doing.
But, over time, you’ll know there’s something wrong. Then, burnout or uncomfortable symptoms hit!
Unfortunately, it can be easy to fail at self-care.
There is good news, though, because it can be easy to succeed at self-care too!
What is Self-Care About, Anyway?
Self-care should not be confused with selfishness or being self-centered.
Putting your health and well-being first does not equate to forgetting about others around you.
If anything, a focus on self-care allows you to be a better and more productive person in the long run. This benefit is especially true if you’re someone who serves or takes care of others.
The little things mustn’t go unnoticed if you don’t want to fail at your self-care.
So, instead of ignoring that headache or stomach ache because you have something to take care of, recognize the early signs of danger.
Address them accordingly. Honor your body’s signals and needs.
If you are feeling sick, don’t force yourself through the pain to complete your daily activities.
Forcing yourself forward is not conducive to healthy living. On the contrary, it can often cause more harm than good in the long run.
Self-Care is About Finding What Works Best for You
Self-care is unique to you.
Never compare your self-care routine or needs with someone else’s. They’re likely on an entirely different path in life.
That truth being revealed, self-care is about setting your boundaries. Discover what pushes you forward rather than holding you back.
Paying attention to what your body tells you it needs is a crucial step to succeeding at self-care.
When we try to power through pain or sickness, it’s because of expectations or pressures outside of our own.
Instead, work on listening to the subtle signals your body gives you.
And, remember that nobody’s perfect, even if they seem to be. Everyone has their vices or downfalls in life. So when it comes to yours – it’s essential to acknowledge them but not make them your main focus in life.
Here is a list of the top 5 reasons you will fail at self-care (if you let it!):
1 You Will Fail at Self-Care if You’re Expectations Are Too High
It’s easy to get caught up in our own busy lives and expectations.
The social media culture that thrives on making others feel inadequate can be a significant factor as well.
As a result, we often forget about taking care of ourselves first before going out into the world to help others.
If you’ve been given the spiritual gift of service, you likely feel drawn towards helping others. But that doesn’t mean you must give, give, and give indefinitely.
There may be instances or crises when you must serve or take care of others until you’re exhausted. It shouldn’t happen a lot, but it seems we live this way even without a situation in play.
You can’t expect to go forever without addressing your own needs.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or even burnt out from trying to please everyone but yourself, take a step back and ask yourself- “What does self-care look like?”
Self-care could mean anything from getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, setting boundaries, or just being kinder to yourself in general.
Often, we like to water down the definition of self-care.
We are all guilty of rushing back to our daily lives without truly taking any time for ourselves.
2 You Will Fail at Self-Care if You Make Inappropriate Goals
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea of taking care of yourself. So, it’s essential to make sure that your goals will improve your life rather than hurt it.
For instance, let’s say you’re working on weight loss, and trying to eat less food is your self-care goal.
You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed or like you’re starving all of the time.
Strict goals can cause you to end up feeling resentful, which leads to quitting.
On the other hand, setting a goal to eat more vegetables (rather than sweets) will give you more flexibility.
Also, setting additive goals will lend to driving positive change and positive attitudes (rather than goals that focus on eliminating types of behavior).
A positive attitude helps you feel better about what you’re working on. Keeping track of the vegetables you ate or the foods you didn’t eat each day is another way to see the positive changes.
It’s also good to remember that you can take baby steps instead of changing all your behaviors at once. This way, you can make sure that you feel comfortable with each reasonable step that you take.
In addition, this approach will help ensure that your goal is achievable and healthy for your body and mind.
It can be frustrating if you set goals that are out of your control to meet.
If you want to set a self-care goal to get more sleep, you should not sleep a specific number of hours. None of us can push a button to make ourselves go to sleep or even make ourselves stay asleep.
Don’t choose goals where you have no control as to whether you can meet them or not.
Instead, going back to our sleep example, if you want to get more sleep, start with the goal of going to bed a little earlier and perhaps even waking up at a specific time every morning (per alarm clock).
Another goal is to only follow the above schedule for a while and not anything else until you’re comfortable with your new habit.
You can also keep track of whether or not you stayed true to your goal by using a sleep journal that you can find online or at a bookstore. This task can motivate you if you like to record your progress or if you’re a competitive person.
It can be discouraging to not meet your goal right away.
This can also be true if something isn’t working right in your life or if you’re feeling sad about something.
For example, if your goal is to eliminate your negative thoughts, you might find that it’s good to express them. You can do this by keeping a journal or diary to write out everything you feel to get it into the open. This strategy helps because they’re not as scary or intimidating once things are in front of you anymore.
But, if there are too many negative thoughts that you want to get rid of, then it’s good to talk to someone who can help you through your feelings instead of ignoring them or taking away an aspect of yourself.
Sometimes you need help to meet your goals. Therapists excel at helping in this way!
Assess why you’re not meeting your goal.
If you set a goal for yourself and find that it isn’t working out, you should think about why.
You can also tell someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, so they can help you come up with a good solution.
If you’re feeling bogged down by self-care goals that aren’t working, then it’s time to take a step back and think about what kind of goals might work for your lifestyle. This is why knowing yourself and reflecting on who you are and where you want to go in life is so important.
If you’ve got a goal to feel confident in your current job situation, it may lead to disappointment when you don’t acquire this new trait immediately. It can be harrowing when self-help goals don’t turn out like you would like them to.
But what’s also frustrating is having an inappropriate plan that doesn’t even enhance your life. So it’s essential to make sure that what you’re trying to achieve will be a successful step in the right direction.
For instance, if you grew up with a supportive family and a close group of friends but then move away for a job and find yourself all alone, it can be easy for your goal-setting process to focus on things like getting married and having a family soon.
A healthier goal for this situation is to focus on building up social groups and becoming more independent.
However, again, if you set your sights too high right away, you’re probably going to be disappointed when it doesn’t happen in such a short time frame.
Don’t give up!
It’s essential to stay focused on your goals and don’t let things like moving away, losing a job, or getting divorced get in the way of your self-care program.
But it’s also important to realize that your happiness should be something that you work towards every day, not just when problems need to be fixed.
So, if you’re having trouble setting appropriate goals for yourself, then enlist the help of a therapist who will give you the advice you need.
3 If You Try to Meet Goals in Too Big of Steps You Will Fail at Self-Care
Trying to achieve your self-care goals in giant steps or actions can cause you to fail at self-care. Working on significant steps creates a greater risk of the following consequences.
1) You might not be able to meet any of your self-care goals because you are taking on too much at once and feel defeated before you even begin.
2) You might feel like a failure when you don’t meet your goal in the expected amount of time.
Don’t let this happen!
Instead, break down significant changes into small, realistic parts.
For example, if your goal is to go for a 2-mile jog, try setting smaller objectives beforehand, like finding active clothes and putting on some comfortable shoes. Then perhaps start walking a few minutes a day, then move into walking/running a few minutes a day.
Keep your steps small and attainable (in fact, it pays to start with steps you KNOW you can do). Meeting self-care goals can be rewarding and help you take on new ones.
4 You Will Fail at Self-Care if You Think Self-Care is Just for You
You will fail at self-care if you think it only benefits you.
There are many reasons why this is true, but the most common sense is that poor self-care can affect other people in your life.
If you don’t take care of yourself, then you may have less patience, energy, or time for others. As a result, you might snap more easily or let things slide that you otherwise would have put effort into fixing – to save some energy.
Self-care includes taking care of your physical and mental health and how it impacts the health of those around you. It also includes being kind to yourself and taking time out for your needs – even when it feels difficult.
Self-care can be hard to figure out and more challenging to put into practice.
But, if you’ve been struggling with self-care, then don’t give up!
Instead, ask yourself, “What would I do for someone else who was struggling?” Then, use your empathy skills to come up with ideas for self-care. The truth is that if you care about other people in your life, then you will be able to care about yourself too.
If you have the spiritual gift of service, your self-care is essential to God and the people whom you serve.
You can still powerfully serve others when you are taking care of yourself.
Moreover, taking care of your needs will help you more easily notice when others need your help.
5 Letting Barriers Get in Your Way Will Cause You to Fail at Self-Care
Letting barriers get in the way of self-care can cause you to fail in keeping your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs met in a timely fashion.
Suppose you don’t look out for yourself by attending to daily activities like eating right, getting exercise, taking time to relax, or connecting with friends.
Then eventually, one day, when something terrible happens, you’ll get knocked down and not be able to pick yourself back up.
Self-care is easy to put off when we don’t make it a priority.
We all have busy lives and daily tasks that take up our time and energy. However, if we can manage to slot self-care into our routine, there’s no excuse not to do it.
Make it part of your morning or evening routine, just like brushing your teeth or putting away clean laundry.
It could be as simple as cooking a healthy dinner and going for a walk with a friend to decompress from a busy day.
When we don’t practice self-care regularly, it becomes overwhelming to try and do it all at once when something happens that gets us down.
People often wait to practice self-care when they’re in a crisis. Then they have to spend all their time and energy trying to fix the problem that created the situation.
Unfortunately, this strategy causes burnout and leaves you unable to deal with things until they’ve had time to recuperate.
When we don’t do self-care as often as we need or want to it can build up extra stress and tension in our muscles, making us feel physically ill.
Not eating well, not exercising, and not getting enough rest can all lead to feelings of sickness such as headaches, fatigue, heartburn, and muscle aches. When this happens, we become less able to deal with other stressors, and we’re likely to feel overwhelmed, impatient and snappy with other people.
Another problem that can happen when we don’t do self-care is we can begin to resent the people in our lives that depend on us for support. Deep down because we know that if it weren’t for them, we would practice better self-care every day.
Over time, this resentment can build up.
Resentment can cause us to push away people who love us the most, leading to feelings of loneliness.
We may even begin to feel abandoned or unworthy of support.
When this happens, we can make it nearly impossible for others to help us when we need them most.
So Find A Way to Overcome Your Barriers
You’ll never be able to prevent every barrier, but you can set up strategies to overcome them. Then, if you expect them to happen – you can be ready for them.
The most important message here is that barriers can quickly derail our self-care plans and create harm. This is especially true if we connect having barriers with failing at self-care.
Having the worldview that obstacles happen in life will keep us on the right track in the long run.
In conclusion, self-care can simply mean being more mindful of others around you.
Take some time out of each day to be present at the moment.
For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a deep breath. Then, allow yourself time to decompress instead of pushing it aside for later.
By living in the moment, we can cherish all aspects of our lives, including ourselves, without taking anything for granted.
Of course, everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently, but self-care is a universal necessity for thriving in today’s world.
Remember to love yourself.
Work to take care of the only body you have so that it may continue on your path with you.
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Lisa Kimrey is a 30-year veteran registered nurse, speaker, and author of the Bible study, The Self-care Impact: Motivation and Inspiration for Wellness. At Mylifenurse, Lisa writes about simple ways to care for yourself to stay happy, healthy, and rejuvenated while you serve and care for others. Combining her years of nursing expertise with Scripture-based encouragement, Lisa shows readers easy ways to begin and maintain their self-care journey – without feeling guilty. Be sure to grab your FREE Self-care Starter Guide!