Overwhelmed? 3 reasons to make self-care your new non-negotiable
When you are feeling overwhelmed with an impossible schedule, stressed about keeping on top of everything and burnt out because you ran out of energy long before you finished that never-ending ‘to-do’ list, it can feel so backwards to think of self-care as a non-negotiable. I get it, I’ve been there, and I know how exhausting that feels.
In this article, I’m going to explain why self-care is more important during those moments and some tips on how to integrate this into your life.
Now I know you may be thinking ‘I haven’t got time for self-care!’, or perhaps ‘I’ll do self-care once everything else is finished’. If you are, I’m curious to know how that is working out for you?
For me, having this belief led to more overwhelm, more stress and more severe burnout. As a chronic people-pleaser with very low self-esteem, I used to believe that self-care was selfish! I couldn’t imagine forsaking my responsibilities for a spa day when I had things that needed to be done and bills to pay.
However, I slowly began to recognise that the overwhelm and stress in my life wasn’t going anywhere, no matter how many hours I put into work or how much energy I gave out to others. I kept burning out, which ultimately made me feel worse and more guilty each time it happened.
Sound familiar? Then stick with me.
3 reasons why self-care is so important
Reason 1: You can’t pour from an empty cup!
This phrase used to be so patronising when I’d be in the middle of burnout. It was as unhelpful as hearing ‘Where did you last see it?’ if you misplaced an item. However, let’s break down what this really means.
Would you expect a vehicle to drive a long distance without fuel in the tank? No.
Would you expect an empty kettle to pour boiling liquid without first filling it with water? No.
Why then do we place such great expectations on ourselves to perform if our energy is low? Perhaps you don’t feel worthy of self-care, or maybe it’s because you are too busy managing everything else to find time in the day. There can be lots of reasons we don’t prioritise self-care. However, we are human beings and not human doings. Our energy is not as infinite as a machine’s might be. If we want to lead sustainable lifestyles, it is therefore vital to ensure that we find ways to re-energise ourselves so that we can achieve this without burning out. We need to ‘fill our cups’ to be able to pour from them.
Reason 2: Self-care will enable you to do the things you want
Self-care will enable you to do the things you want, love and need to do without feeling exhausted in the process. Let’s take a moment to break down that notion of self-care being selfish.
If you, like me, think it’s important to put other things and people before yourself, you may view self-care as a selfish endeavour. I get that.
Now let me ask you a curious question; if you are too burnt out to do anything, what happens then? Shame, guilt, more stress, possibly even more overwhelm…
Sounds like a vicious cycle, doesn’t it?
Now what if I told you that building self-care into your regular routine could actually enable you to show up for those you love, and complete those to-do lists all whilst having energy and enthusiasm? It might sound too good to be true, but I assure you it’s possible. If you take care of yourself, you’ll have more capacity to take care of responsibilities and those you love.
Reason 3: Self-care will protect your well-being
Self-care also reduces stress, protects your mental health, boosts your self-esteem, and improves your physical health and your relationships, too.
It always feels ironic to me that the very thing we might avoid doing in favour of other ‘more important’ stuff is the exact tool that might help us to achieve the things we’re exhausting ourselves over.
By carving out a little time for yourself to refuel your energy supplies, you will gradually start to feel better about yourself. Self-care helps to improve your relationship with yourself and, therefore, helps to improve your capacity to improve relationships with others. If you are feeling resentful that your time is taken up by everyone and everything around you, it doesn’t create a healthy space for positive relationships or higher levels of self-esteem. Self-care can become one of your power tools for achieving all the things you dream of on a daily basis without the resentment that builds as a result of never having any time for yourself.
How to implement self-care
So, you’ve read three reasons why self-care should become a non-negotiable in your life. Let’s talk about how to implement this.
Firstly, let’s reframe what self-care looks like. It does not have to be an expensive spa day or a long, luxurious holiday. Self-care can be the little, healthy things in life that give us joy and energy.
- Anytime you feel that guilt gremlin popping up to tell you that you are being selfish, see if you can reframe the belief to view self-care as a necessity for managing your workload and stress levels.
- Start small, see if you can begin practising self-care for a few minutes at a time. I’ll finish this article with some ideas on self-care if you’re feeling stuck.
- Schedule it into your timetable to physically make time for it. Try holding a new boundary to achieve this, for example: for each high-intensity task, you schedule a small moment of self-care such as making your favourite drink after a big meeting.
- Have a variety of self-care options available to you so that you can do this no matter what environment you are in.
- Find the things that work for you. They don’t need to make sense to other people, these are your personal self-care strategies.
- Build in accountability check-ins, either with yourself or someone you trust to help you remember your self-care strategies!
To help you start, here are 10 relatively short, budget-friendly ideas that could be self-care strategies for you:
- Put a timer on for five minutes in a quiet space for some breathing and grounding exercises.
- Go for a walk in your local park, forest, green space or wherever feels relaxing for you.
- Take a hot bath.
- Do five minutes of stretching and mobility movement.
- Snuggle a pet or loved one for a few minutes.
- Make your favourite cuppa and read/listen to your favourite book or podcast.
- Do something creative for five minutes, then increase by five minutes each time until you feel comfortable doing it for 30-60 minutes. This could include drawing, painting, writing, dancing etc.
- Do a five to 10-minute skincare routine.
- Treat yourself to a favourite snack or drink and practice mindfulness as you enjoy it.
- Put your favourite music on a speaker or headphones and spend five minutes wiggling and moving around your space.
If you’ve read this article and feel like you would benefit from some support and accountability, please remember you never have to do this alone.
Schedule a free discovery call with me today to see if I could be the right coach for you, I’d love to hear from you and listen to your story.
With very best and brightest love, Beth.