You might feel like you’re the only one with self-care barriers, but that isn’t true. Learn how to overcome the most common obstacles!
Most of us would agree that our self-care is a priority.
Self-care is 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 for all of us, most of us don’t see self-care barriers the same way.
We think we struggle alone.
But, there are common barriers to self-care, and many people struggle with them.
More important to know, however, is that there are some simple ways to deal with these self-care barriers. In fact, I list seven of them below!
As you might expect, some solutions are more comfortable to implement than others. But it’s absolutely 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 Common 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 say they don’t have the motivation to do their self-care.
But, self-care can feel overwhelming or like a giant project when first starting. So, a lack of motivation is common when people try to make lifestyle changes.
Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do to deal with a lack of motivation.
- First, break your self-care into small steps. Instead of trying to make huge changes, work on simple, tiny improvements. Wellness can occur through consistent baby steps.
- And second, start with the self-care strategies that you enjoy doing. For example, if you like going to Yoga to relieve stress, start with that.
If you enjoy meditation, reduce stress by increasing the time spent meditating.
TIP: Start with self-care strategies you enjoy to increase your motivation for self-care.
If you are a Christian, you can increase your meditation time through Scripture study, prayer, and worship to find self-care motivation.
2 Feeling Guilty About Spending Time or Money Taking Care of Yourself
Sometimes people confuse self-care with self-pampering and self-indulgence which can cause feelings of guilt.
Self-pampering or self-indulgence is something we can enjoy in moderation.
- Maybe it’s getting a pedicure or a relaxing massage at a spa.
- It might be eating a special meal or dessert.
- It might be a beachside 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, body, and soul.
For example, most of us wouldn’t dream of:
- not taking a shower
- never going to sleep
- skipping the brushing of 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.
However, marketing firms have monetized portions of self-care. Now their messages tell us that self-care takes a lot of time and money.
But the truth remains, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or 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.
Finally, feeling guilty about making time for yourself may be a sign that you lack proper personal boundaries.
Setting stricter boundaries was an easy solution and helped me improve my self-care.
TIP: Set stricter personal boundaries to reduce the guilty feelings associated with spending time or money on your 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.
- Caregivers with an ill family member might find they never feel hungry.
- People serving in a stressful ministry may 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.
- Healthcare providers may be pressured to work without time off or staff vacancies may require it when patient care needs are high. Unfortunately, these are common barriers to self-care for nurses.
It is vital to make yourself stop for lunch, take breaks, and make time to use the restroom.
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!
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!).
4 Believing 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, some people think like I did and believe self-care is just for people who are sick or elderly.
This isn’t true! People of all ages should be in tune with their self-care needs to handle life stressors best.
Self-care is a necessity – based on the way God creates us.
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, body, and soul.
You’re never too young to pay attention to your self-care needs! Start today:)
TIP: Resting when you’re tired is a powerful, yet under-utilized self-care strategy because it is viewed as laziness or weakness.
5 Putting Other’s Needs First
People who serve or take care of others face barriers to self-care frequently.
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 think, “I’ll take better care of myself tomorrow,” regularly.
- Or, “I’ll tend to my needs when [special person] no longer needs my service.”
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.
If you’re one of these people, you enjoy taking care of others, and it feels good to do so. So you will need to accept a different paradigm.
- 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 serve [special person] as long as they need it.”
The old saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup applies well here.
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.
TIP: Instead of finding reasons to put your self-care off until later, give value to why you should perform self-care now.
6 Thinking Self-care Takes Too Much Time – One of the Biggest Barriers to Maintaining Self-care Strategies!
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.
It’s 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. God designed your body, and it requires self-care.
- 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 feel unworthy.’ Habits help you do self-care anyway.
TIP: You are worthy, no matter how you feel. Form habits to help you through difficult times.
Now You Can Conquer the Barriers to Self-care
I started this post by writing about making small changes – baby steps even. There can be a 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 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.
WANT TO LEARN HOW? Grab my FREE Self-care Motivation Bible Study
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Hi, I’m Lisa! Thanks for visiting My Life Nurse, where we provide people who serve and take care of others with easy self-care plans and systems, wellness strategies, and scripture-based encouragement so you can stay happy, healthy and rejuvenated. I’ve found that many people struggle with caring for themselves while taking care of others, but they also feel called to serve others, so they keep working even when they’re stressed and exhausted. That’s why I combine my nursing expertise with Scripture-based teaching. Our readers love learning how to walk closer to the Lord to improve their self-care – so they can begin their journey to feel better – without feeling guilty. Be sure to grab your FREE Self-care StarTer Guide!