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How Misconceptions about Self-Care Get in the Way of Taking Care of Yourself

How Misconceptions about Self-Care Get in the Way of Taking Care of Yourself

“You have to take care of yourself.”

“You should schedule a spa day!”

“Have you tried yoga?”

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“Do you know what a gratitude journal is?”

You know self-care is important but if the thought of a hot yoga class or a daily mediation journal sends you running in the opposite direction, you might start to think that the whole self-care thing isn’t for you.

In all of the messages about relaxation, stress management, and healthy living an important message has largely been ignored: While self-care is about taking care of ourselves, that may mean different things to different people.

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Some people may find the respite they need inside a spa.  Someone else might find their reprieve inside a racquetball court. Still another may find rejuvenation at 2 a.m. inside a standing-room only rock concert in a small concert venue.

Self-care, when done right, nurtures our souls, feeds our spirits, and helps us tune into our passions and pleasures. It doesn’t always look and sound the way we’re told it does. If you’re struggling to fit self-care into your life, it might be because your version of self-care doesn’t fit the mold.

Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What’s something that gets you excited?
  • What’s something that when you do it, you lose track of time?
  • When do you feel the most alive?
  • Is there anything in your life that brings you pure, child-like glee?
  • What do you wish you had more time for?
  • What’s something you love so much that you’ve created a ritual around it?
  • What are your guilty pleasures?

Answering these questions, you might find that you’re already doing a pretty good job of taking care of yourself. If you’re looking at these questions and drawing a blank, it’s likely that you haven’t made time for real self-care in a while.

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Some might guess or suspect that a lack of time is the culprit. After all, we certainly hear that often enough: “I would get to that exercise class if I could but I just don’t have the time. I have to get my daughter to soccer.”

While a lack of time is certainly an obvious factor, the real reason more people aren’t committing to self-care practices more regularly is that it feels indulgent and selfish to do so when our self-care practices aren’t on the culturally approved list of ways to take better care of ourselves.

While you’ll never find me inside a yoga class, you will find me in a weekly boxing class at a mixed martial arts gym. I won’t ever write in a gratitude journal but I really enjoy writing articles, even though that looks like “work” to other people.  While getting those 8 hours of sleep in sounds like a fine idea, I’d much prefer getting up early with a good cup of coffee and watching my favorite TV show on demand. I watch football, am an avid foodie, and can easily kill an hour listening to YouTube artists singing covers of my favorite songs.

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It’s not easy saying I take care of myself by wearing my Patriots jersey and watching a three hour football game on a Sunday afternoon because people have a lot of opinions about football these days and even more opinions about people who sit and watch TV for a three hour sitting.

If we really want people to start taking better care of themselves, it’s important that we stop defining for them what that looks like and how to do it. Maybe if we let everyone decide for themselves what self-care is and isn’t, we’d find more people willing to do it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory/Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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