There is a message that is widespread throughout the western world that taking time for self-care is selfish. Many women feel guilty taking the time necessary to care for and nurture themselves. As a result, they often put themselves last. But the lack of regular self-care leads to an increase in stress, which in turn becomes a chronic illness.
Perhaps you are already seeing the results of chronic stress. Are you experiencing symptoms and are looking to feel good again? Restoring your health will require you to make self-care a priority! Holding onto the mindset that self-care is selfish will not serve you if you want to heal. It is time to begin changing the belief that self-care is wrong and begin putting your health needs first!
Many women are naturally drawn to helping and taking care of the needs of others. Learning to help themselves first may not come quite as easily. But here are a few things you can do if you struggle to make self-care a priority!
Making self-care a priority
Like so many others, you may feel that it takes too much time to commit to regular self-care. Obligations from family and job may be higher priorities for you. Because of this, you may find that you run out of time to do what you need to take care of yourself after fulfilling those obligations. Putting yourself at the top of the priority list will help you to get more done! It may not seem natural or intuitive to put yourself first, but schedule in time before anything else to take care of you! As you begin feeling better you will have more energy to get more accomplished!
A car that isn’t maintained will stop running
If you want to continue helping others you must help yourself first. Think about a car for a moment. With a car, you have to go and fill it with fuel, get oil changes and get maintenance done on it regularly. Without those things, it will run for a while, but eventually, it’s going to stop running and leave you stuck on the side of the road. The body is not much different! We need to be fueled with good food, we need adequate sleep, we need to move our bodies and we need to manage stress. Symptoms are like the warning lights on a car. They are there to tell us that something is malfunctioning and that we need to address what is going wrong. If you don’t do that, your body will stop functioning optimally, and eventually, you will get so sick that you won’t be able to help anyone…including yourself.
Recognizing your needs
Many women have stopped paying attention to their own needs because they are so busy tending to everyone and everything else. They ignore cues from the body to take care of basic daily needs. So it is important to recognize what you may need in a moment so that you can step up and do what is best for you and your body. Are you so busy that you forget to eat? Or do you reach for unhealthy foods instead of grabbing a healthy meal? If so, you are not giving your body the fuel that it needs to thrive and to heal. Do you regularly feel overwhelmed, but keep pushing through anyway? You may need to schedule a few hours or even an entire day when you don’t have to do anything except take care of yourself. Checking in with yourself throughout the day and asking yourself “how am I feeling right now?” and “what do I need right now?” can be great ways to help you begin to recognize your needs. Doing this can reduce stress and help you to feel better!
It is important for you to make self-care a priority in your life. But you may have family members, friends, or others who regularly ask you for your time. Some may not be understanding when you begin to take time away from them to take care of yourself. But it is okay to say no if they ask you to do things that will prevent you from taking care of yourself. And you can say no without feeling guilty about it too! You may need to work with children or a spouse or partner to set up new routines and new boundaries. You have the right to take care of yourself and it is up to you to teach those around you to respect and honor the time you need to do that. Just be gentle but firm as you work to set new boundaries in place.
Self-care isn’t always comfortable
Taking care of yourself and making yourself a priority may seem a bit uncomfortable at first. It will take some practice and a little time to get you used to putting yourself first. But until you do, you will struggle to get the health results that you want. Making sure you are eating plenty of healthy foods that work to help support your body, getting plenty of good quality sleep, exercising regularly, and managing stress will go a long way to helping you finally find some relief from the health symptoms that have been causing you problems.
Are you ready to make a commitment to yourself? If you want to rebuild your health but are looking for some extra support, the health detectives at FDNthrive can help. Fill out our survey to see if FDNthrive is the right match for you!