You might feel like you’re the only one with self-care barriers, but that’s not true. Learn the most common obstacles, and how to overcome them!
Most of us would agree our self-care is a priority.
Self-care (taking care of ourselves) is something necessary to do every day, and it includes all of the actions, behaviors, and activities we do to build coping skills to help us manage stress, prevent illness, and stay well.
While we agree that self-care is essential, wouldn’t you also agree that self-care barriers are everywhere? At one time, I thought I was the only person who struggled with these self-care barriers.
But, as I was willing to open up and talk to people, I found that wasn’t true at all.
There are common barriers to self-care, and many people struggle with them.
More important to know, however, is that there are simple ways to deal with these self-care barriers!
As you might expect, some solutions are more comfortable to implement than others. But it is possible to deal with your self-care barriers.
Moreover, it’s possible to learn how to form these suggestions into healthy habits and place them into your self-care routine.
So let’s go through them!
Dealing with Barriers to Self-care
- No Motivation for Self-care
- Feeling Guilty About Spending Time or Money Taking Care of Yourself
- A Lack of Awareness of Your Own Needs
- Thinking Self-care is a Sign of Weakness or a Vanity Measure
- Putting Other’s Needs First
- Thinking Self-care Takes Too Much Time
- Thinking You are Not Worthy of Self-care!
1 No Motivation for Self-care
Many people voice they lack motivation to do their self-care.
A lack of motivation is especially common if people want to make a lifestyle change to start taking better care of themselves.
Self-care can sometimes feel overwhelming, or like a giant project when changes feel warranted. But there are a couple of things you can do to deal with a lack of motivation.
First, break your self-care into small steps. Wellness can occur through consistent baby-steps. Instead of trying to make huge changes, work on simple, tiny improvements.
And second, start with the self-care strategies that you most enjoy doing. For example, if you like going to Yoga to relieve stress, start with that.
If you enjoy meditation, reduce stress by increasing time spent meditating. If you are a Christian, you can increase your meditation time through prayer and worship to find self-care motivation.
TIP: Start with self-care strategies you enjoy to increase your motivation for self-care.
2 Feeling Guilty About Spending Time or Money Taking Care of Yourself
Sometimes people think self-care means the same thing as self-pampering and self-indulgence.
Self-pampering or self-indulgence is something we can do and enjoy in moderation. Maybe it’s getting a pedicure or a relaxing massage at a spa. It might be eating a special, high-calorie meal or dessert. It might be a beach-side vacation.
Self-care is not the same thing.
Self-care is related to our activities of daily living, or how we take care of our mind and body. For example, most of us wouldn’t dream of not taking a shower, going to sleep, or brushing our teeth.
Your self-care falls into a similar priority level as your hygiene. And, typically it doesn’t take a lot of time or cost a lot of money.
The truth is, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or any money on self-care.
But even if you do, the return on your time and money investment is high. Not just for you, but for the people you serve and take care of too.
Feeling guilty about making time for yourself may be a sign that you lack proper personal boundaries.
TIP: Set stricter personal boundaries to reduce the guilty feelings associated with spending time or money on your self-care.
Setting stricter boundaries was an easy solution and helped me improve my self-care.
3 A Lack of Awareness of Your Own Needs
A lack of personal boundaries can also interfere with the awareness of your own needs.
Sometimes being preoccupied with a loved one’s illness or worrying about a symptom can eclipse seeing your own needs.
For example, caregivers with very ill family might find they never feel hungry.
Another example is when people who are serving in a stressful ministry find themselves working long hours, skipping breaks, or forgoing lunch during acute cases because they sense an overriding urgency of the client’s situation, but not their own fatigue or exhaustion.
It is vital to make yourself stop for lunch, take breaks, and make time to use the restroom.
TIP: If you find that you aren’t aware of your own needs, consider a strategy. Perhaps set alarms on your phone or ask a friend to keep you accountable (ask them not to take no for an answer!).
If you are the caregiver of a family member, nurture interests and hobbies outside of your family to stay connected to who you are as a person – even an hour a week will help!
4 Thinking Self-care is a Sign of Weakness, or a Vanity Measure – Common Barriers to Self-care
Self-care is not a sign of weakness or a vanity measure.
That said, many people think like I did and believe self-care is just for people who are sick or older.
This is not true! People of all ages should be in tune with their self-care needs to best handle the stressors in life.
Self-care is a necessity – based on the way God creates our mind and body.
The truth is, you have to do your self-care; there’s no way out of it. You will struggle or even suffer (by design) if you don’t take care of yourself.
The first step of self-care is paying attention to the needs of your mind and body.
TIP: Resting when you’re tired is a powerful, yet under-utilized self-care strategy because it is viewed as laziness or weakness.
You’re never too young to pay attention to your self-care needs! Start today:)
5 Putting Other’s Needs First
People who serve or take care of others experience barriers to self-care on a frequent basis.
At some point, most moms, dads, professional or unpaid caregivers, and people serving in ministry all find that caring for others interferes with caring for themselves in some way.
It happens so often that it’s easy to begin thinking, “I’ll take better care of myself tomorrow” on a regular basis.
Or, “I’ll tend to my needs when [special person] is better.”
These statements are subtle ways of placing your personal needs under someone else’s individual needs. Putting your needs aside for another would be okay if caregiving or serving others were just for a couple of days. But in most cases, it’s not.
To deal with this thinking, you’ll need to change your mindset.
People who serve and take care of others are more prone to putting other’s needs before their own. They enjoy taking care of others, and it makes them feel good to do so.
For example, “I need to take care of myself today, so I can give my best [care] to [someone or something important to you] tomorrow and in the future.”
Or, another example, “I need to tend to my self-care needs so I can take care of [special person] as long as they need it.”
The old saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup applies well here.
However, marketing firms have monetized portions of self-care. Now their messages tell us self-care takes a lot of time and money.
TIP: Instead of finding reasons to put your self-care off until later, think of reasons that give value to why you should perform self-care now.
For people who serve and take care of others, understanding how self-care can help you continue to do what you love to do can be helpful and motivating to take good care of yourself.
To continue to do an excellent job as a parent, caregiver, or ministry, over the long term, you must put your personal needs first.
6 Thinking Self-care Takes Too Much Time
You do have time for self-care, but you need to make your self-care a
Many people struggle with one of the following three problems when they struggle with a lack of time for their self-care.
A Too Many Responsibilities
In some cases, people have too many commitments. The funny thing is, it’s easy to spot this scenario in other people’s lives, but not in our own lives.
It is essential to take an honest look at your schedule and time commitments. There are limited hours in a day, and you should spend some of that time taking care of yourself.
You may need to learn how to say no to some things. It is okay to say no even to good things so you can feel great doing the right things.
B Difficulty Prioritizing Time
The key to successfully prioritizing your time is understanding that not everything is equal. In fact, when it comes to prioritizing your time, especially when you are trying to find time for your self-care, there are no ties.
In other words, the most effective way to better prioritize your time is to assign a ‘number’ to the task on your to-do list.
For example if you have eight tasks on your to-do list, choose the lowest priority and give it an eight. Identify the next lowest priority and give it a seven, and so on.
Eventually, you will have a list of tasks prioritized from most important to least. Start with the most important task (and your self-care should be somewhere at the top!).
C Inability to Properly Manage Time
Finally, it’s probably not surprising to learn how distracting social media can be.
Instead of grabbing your phone and ‘scrolling social media’ at random, assign a set time to do so (after your high priority tasks are complete).
It’s important to remember that even good things can be distracting.
TIP: Be diligent about learning ways to say no, assigning a priority level to your to-do list tasks, and avoiding distractions.
7 Thinking You are Not Worthy of Self-care!
It’s hard to admit, but we’ve all probably felt this way at one time or another. It’s especially strong when life is overwhelming with change or we have pushed ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
First, it’s essential to keep in mind that God loves you. You ARE worthy of self-care, it’s how you are designed.
Second, healthy self-care habits can carry you through these times. Habits are the tool to help you ‘do your self-care even when you don’t feel worthy’. Habits help you do self-care anyway.
TIP: You are worthy, no matter how you feel. Form habits to help you through these times
Now You Can Conquer the Barriers to Self-care
I started this post by writing about making small changes – baby steps even. There is great success with small, consistent changes.
Therefore, I encourage you to think of some very simple, very small changes you can make to take better care of yourself.
Ultimately, work towards the following:
- Take a small amount of time for regular activity (exercise) to improve your physical self-care.
- Focus on your personal needs – spend time with a good friend or do something just for yourself (consistently) to improve your emotional self-care.
- Nurture your spiritual self-care. Learn how to meditate, pray, and spend time with the Lord. It will give you time to breathe.
In closing, I like to share one last piece of encouragement to you as a parent, ministry servant, or caregiver.
Yes, there are going to be days when you’re tired and worn-out. But here’s one last strategy to overcome your barriers to self-care.
Don’t ever hold your self-worth and self-care to your standards. Hold them both to God’s.