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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, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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