Why is Self Care so Freakin’ Hard?

Why is Self Care so Freakin’ Hard

One hour ago I was full of anxiety. I was totally unfocused; I couldn’t hold a thought, and I was jumping from to-do list item to to-do list not accomplishing anything.

A small voice in my head said, “Go workout, take a break, re-group”

This voice was met quickly by my Taskmaster Monger saying, “No way you have a TON of stuff to do today and no time for working out, you should have done it earlier but you missed the window. So get back to work” (yep my mongers can be pretty nasty)

To which I heard, the small voice, “You will feel SO much better if you take a break you will focus more and be more productive”.

For a short time, the Taskmaster won, and I tried fruitlessly to get more done.  Finally, out of pure annoyance from being so unproductive, I got up changed my clothes and worked out.

And here I am 60 minutes later feeling like a new person, I am refreshed, my mind is clear and focused (I am even writing this blog post which I tried 10 times before I worked out). The Taskmaster has taken a back seat on the bus, and all is well.

There has never been a time where I have gone for worked out, gone for a walk, taken a 60-second vacation where I have regretted it.  So often these are the last types of activities on my list.  These types of activity are what the self-help world calls self-care.  But as a population who tends to put themselves last (even on their to-do list) engaging in self-care can be a challenge.

Why is that?  Most likely due to a plethora of messages we received growing up from society, teachers, mentors, society and even our parents involving others needs, productivity, and being selfish.

However, the more important question is: What are we going to do about it? Here is what I know for sure.

Here are three truths I know for sure

  1. The harder I push myself the less likely I will take a break. Once my Taskmaster Monger takes charge, it gets harder and harder to unhook her. 
  2. The term ‘self-care’ doesn’t inspire me to give myself a break. Maybe because of earlier programming.
  3. I ALWAYS feel better when I engage in an energy shift (meditation, physically moving my body, getting back to nature, etc.) I like to think of it as energy building time.

So based on those 3 truths here are some ways I have found to make taking a break less freakin’ hard.

Energy Breaks.  I like to call the time Energy Breaks rather than Self Care. When I think that working out, going for a walk, taking a dance break will increase my energy reserves, I am more likely to engage in that activity. That thinking/phrasing appeals me more than the term ‘self-care.’ Even though it IS self-care, I am more easily able to break the cycle and engage in the activity if I don’t call it self-care.

Rituals.  Having set times throughout the day when I have built in time to go on an Energy Break. So between clients, I do some stretching or take a dance break.  When I finish a task, I take a walk around the house. When I hit a stoplight, I take 3 deep breaths.

Schedule it.  I have a scheduled workout time–today I just missed it because I was busy. But usually, I schedule in my Energy Breaks, so they become part of my routine.

Pay attention.  Notice how you feel before and after you take a break. Build awareness around how anxious/stressed/unproductive you are before your break and contrast with how you feel after your break.  As you start to build awareness around the differences in how you feel, you will be more likely to engage in the Energy Break.

2 Comment
  • Comment by I. jacobson at July 30, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

    I like energy break. I don’t like self care. Energy break sounds positive, “Energy!”, while self care sounds medical.

  • Comment by Nancy Jane Smith at July 30, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    Well said! I never thought about it like that but I totally agree.