3 Surprising Signs That Self Care is On Hiatus
Many of us live an interpretation that self-care is all about spending endless days at a spa getting ourselves pampered, buffed, polished and steamed. And while that certainly could be part of a self-care regime, it’s not the only thing that contributes to our overall wellbeing.
Relying on your next mani & pedi appointment may not be enough to boost (or sustain) the quality of your self-care. Here are some surprising signs that it could be time to recalibrate how you’re looking after you.
1. Breaking Promises
We make promises to ourselves all the time…we tell ourselves that we’re going to start making healthy food choices, that we’re going to save more money, that we’re going to tell that needy coworker that we can’t help them finish their report one more time or that we will definitely ask our boss for the week off that we need so badly.
When we start to bend away from the promises we make to ourselves by not doing what we said we would do; or when we act in ways that directly contradict our good intentions and desired outcomes, it’s a sure sign that self-care is in hibernation mode and we’re allowing other things to take priority.
Keeping the promises that we make to ourselves (and making them explicit by writing them down each day/week/month or sharing them out loud with a trusted partner) is one way that we show self-love and support. Promises are super powerful, generative acts and sometimes we forget that. They change our future and they inform what we can expect to see unfold.
When we consistently break the promises we make (to ourselves and to other people) it has a detrimental effect on our sense of self-esteem, on our relationships, on our feeling of success and on trust. Conversely, when we practice making promises that we can keep; we experience a surge in our relationships, trust, self-esteem and sense of success.
What to practice:
- Assess: where might you want to make a new promise to yourself or renew a wilting promise.
- Gut check: Check in with yourself and see what kind of physical and emotional reactions it produces. Does it give you a rush of ambition or does it pull at your stomach? Listen closely to those messages – they are guiding you.
- Make it smaller and measurable: Distill the promise down even further if there is even a small part of you that feels “iffy” about fulfilling it. For example, if I notice that my promise ‘to wake up at 5:30am for the next month’ makes me feel a bit anxious, I will listen to that and shrink my promise down into a smaller bite. I now promise ‘to wake up at 5:30am on Monday and Wednesday this week’ and notice that it feels doable and I’m actually a bit excited to get moving with it.
- Making our promises really big, wanting to eat the entire elephant and not being specific enough can propel us into big let-downs. We can easily gain momentum when we reduce our promises into manageable chunks and make them specific. From here, we can begin to add more as we rebuild our own inner credibility, esteem and inspiration.
2. Playing it Solo
Believing that we have to do it all ourselves so that it’ll get done “right”, not wanting to burden other people, fearing rejection and thinking that we “should” already know are some big triggers for not asking for help.
Asking for and receiving help can be one of the biggest impediments to our self-care and yet, when practiced consciously, it can also be one of the most impactful ways to bring our self-care back on online.
Asking for help can be a skill that we develop. It’s often a missing conversation in our relationships – whether personal or professional.
Taking the time to evaluate how we ask for help is as important as what we’re requesting. Whether it be to ask our spouse for help with a chore or asking our work team for specific support in accomplishing an organizational goal, making requests can serve us in powerful ways.
When we play it solo, we can feel exhausted, resentful, overwhelmed, resigned and our overall mood can be depressed, anxious, reactive and angry. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it begins to spill over into our relationships at home and at work and it makes us feel heavy. When we practice making effective requests and also practice receiving help, we tend to feel more successful, lightness, appreciation, and support. We also end up giving a gift to those people whose help we’ve accepted and who have offered us their time, talent and care. We cannot possibly control every aspect of every single thing that needs our attention – so why expend valuable energy trying?
We don’t get what we don’t ask for. Being purposeful and committed to our self-care means having to take a stand for our capacity and finitude. We must accept and acknowledge that we simply cannot do everything by ourselves.
What to practice:
- Assess where you could use a helping hand – where have you avoided or neglected to ask for it. Start with something small and simple and grow from there.
- Identify who would be a willing, trustworthy and gentle partner to practice with.
- Ask that person for help by following these important guidelines.
- Notice how you feel in taking this small step. Rinse and repeat in other areas where you need some support.
3. Clutter and Disorder in Living & Working Spaces
When we look around, what do we see? What do the surroundings say? Our outer world mirrors our inner world; the connection is undeniable and deep. Does the environment clearly endorse well-being and self-love? Does the space elicit a sense of calm, simplicity, peace, order and flow?
When our physical digs are muddled with too much stuff (garbage, books, papers, mail, clothing, toys, food, trinkets, etc.) our mental, emotional and spiritual capacities get more confused and tangled. We simply don’t thrive as well as we do when we clean up (literally and figuratively)!
Conversely, when our environment is cleared of clutter, purged of things we no longer love and organized to assist the flow of our daily lives, our mental, emotional and spiritual health is revitalized, energized and nourished.
What to practice:
Pick a small area to work with. This could be a car, a closet, a desk, the refrigerator, a drawer, etc.
- Assess – how well do the things and space satisfy you?
- Inventory – decide what needs to stay and what needs to be changed or purged
- Gather – create piles of items to give away, to recycle or to toss
- Add– look to magazines, websites, Pinterest, friends and family for ideas and ways to bring beauty, simplicity and order. Pay special attention to what stokes your inner fire.
Savor the feeling of accomplishment, pride and contentment.
I guarantee that if you practice keeping your promises to self, start asking for help and create nourishing space around you, you sense of self-care will expand and grow. Let me know how it goes!
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