In the last article, we took some time to identify what it means to practice self care. In this article, we will start looking at the most common barriers to self care and provide some practical day to day strategies for overcoming those barriers.
As mentioned in the previous article, self care is essential for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing, yet it is often neglected due to the many barriers we face in our daily lives. One of the most common barriers to self care is the feeling that we don’t have enough time to prioritize it. In our busy lives, we tend to prioritize work, family, and other responsibilities over taking care of ourselves. However, this can lead to burnout, stress, and even physical illness.
Take a moment to reflect on the last time you did something that was purely for enjoyment…
What did you think about and how can you make time to incorporate more of it into your day to day life?
Here are some ways to overcome the barrier of feeling like we don’t have enough time for self care:
Prioritize self care: One of the most effective ways to overcome the feeling of not having enough time is to prioritize self care in your daily routine. This means making self care a non-negotiable part of your day, just like you would any other important task. This could mean waking up 30 minutes earlier to meditate or exercise, taking a lunch break to go for a walk, or even scheduling time in your calendar for self-care activities. If you had an important meeting, would you just blow it off or would you attend the meeting? Think of the time for yourself as a “meeting with me”…give it the same importance as any other meeting in your life.
Identify what self-care means to you: It’s hard to participate in something if you don’t even know what that thing is! Self care looks different for everyone so it’s important to identify what self care means to you and what activities you enjoy. This could be reading a book, taking a bubble bath, practicing yoga, spending time with friends and family or simply sitting in silence. Once you know what self care means to you, you can prioritize activities that make you feel rejuvenated and energized.
Start small: If the idea of adding self-care to your already busy schedule feels overwhelming, start small. Incorporate small self-care activities into your day, such as taking a few deep breaths before starting a new task, or listening to your favourite music while commuting to work. Small acts of self-care can have a big impact on your mental and physical health. You don’t need to carve out an hour a day. Take advantage of little moments throughout your day to engage in enjoyable activities. Over time, a small commitment will pay huge dividends.
Say no: Sometimes we feel like we don’t have enough time for self care because we say yes to too many obligations. Learning to say no to things that don’t align with your values or goals can free up time for self care. Saying no can also help you prioritize what’s most important to you.
Get support: Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Talk to your friends, family, or a therapist about your struggles with self care. They may be able to offer suggestions, hold you accountable, or simply provide encouragement. At MD Weight Loss, our physicians are passionate about helping you achieve harmony and a more balanced life and can offer help when you need to discuss the concept of self care as it pertains to your overall health.
Let’s leave you with a story –
Once upon a time there was a very strong woodcutter who asked a timber merchant for a job cutting trees. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions…so for these reasons the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.
On the first day, the woodcutter was able to cut 18 trees.
His boss praised him for his good work which motivated the woodcutter to try even harder the next day. Despite working as hard as he could, he was only able to cut 15 trees. The third day he tried harder but he only cut 10 trees.
Day after day he kept trying but he was never able to achieve the same results as he did on the first day. He went to his boss to apologize and explain how hard he was working so he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being as productive.
The boss asked him “when was the last time you sharpened your axe?”
The woodcutter replied “I didn’t have time to sharpen my axe, I was too busy cutting trees”.
(original author unknown)
Feeling like we don’t have enough time for self-care is a common barrier, but it’s not insurmountable. By prioritizing self care, identifying what it means to us, starting small, saying no, and getting support, we can overcome this barrier and prioritize our mental and physical health. Remember, taking care of ourselves is not selfish – it’s necessary for living a healthy, fulfilling life where we are then able to use our gifts to help those around us.