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6 Signs You Haven’t Made Self-Care Your Top Priority

6 Signs You Haven’t Made Self-Care Your Top Priority

To get ahead in this busy world, you have to put your own needs on the backburner once in a while.

But that doesn’t mean you should keep them there until they start to boil over.

No matter how giving of a person you are, you should always be looking out for number one. Above all else, this means admitting you’re a human being with certain needs that must be met before anything (and anyone) else.

There’s no shame in that. Acknowledging that you’re not a superhero is humbling, and it’s also healthy. It allows you to operate with a realistic outlook on life, with the understanding that there will often be times in which you’re completely powerless, and the best thing you can do is simply look out for yourself.

1. You Skip or Neglect Your Basic Needs

Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes it clear: Neglecting the importance of self care will eventually destroy you.

On a day-to-day basis you might not see a problem with skipping breakfast because you’re running late, but when doing so becomes habitual you’ll be missing out on vital nutrients that keep you energized throughout the day.

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Similarly, you might try to delude yourself into thinking you can run on four hours of sleep, but over the course of just one week you’ll end up missing an entire 24 hours of rest.

If you’re skipping meals or losing sleep, you’re not going to be able to work to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, even if you’ve been sacrificing your own well being for your job or career, the only thing your boss will notice is this decrease in performance.

Keep up with your basic needs so you can attend to the things in life that require a higher level of focus.

2. You’re Always on Autopilot

Whether you call it the rat race or the hamster wheel, getting stuck in a vicious cycle of eating, sleeping, working, and repeating is dehumanizing.

When each and every day is so exhausting that all you can do is take care of the basics, you’re not really living, at all. You’re simply going through the motions as if you’re a robot programmed only to serve.

But you’re a human being. You need time to sit back and fulfill your emotional needs. You need to spend time in deep thought. You need to experience life and the world around you instead of letting it all pass you by.

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Even robots need to recharge once in a while.

3. You’re Always Doing Something for Someone Else

There’s nothing wrong with being a giving person. Lending a helping hand to others is what builds relationships and communities, and keeps the human race striving for peace.

On the other hand, giving too much of yourself will eventually lead others to start taking advantage. When people see you’re willing to bend over backwards for them, they’ll test the limits and see how far you’ll go before you snap. The worst part is, since you’re such a giving individual, you won’t even realize they’re taking advantage of you until you’re too invested in their needs to back out.

The best thing you can do is to just say “no” sometimes. Recognize when others are asking too much of you, and simply tell them you can’t help them right now. Showing a little backbone in the present will save you from snapping in the future.

4. You’ve Lost Touch with Friends and Family

When was the last time you spent time with the people you actually care about?

When you’re too giving of yourself, you end up spending way too much time dedicated to coworkers, colleagues, and bosses who mean absolutely nothing to you on a personal level. Unfortunately, this means the relationships you do care about end up suffering.

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While you do have certain duties at work and in life that need to be fulfilled, none of them can compare to the duty you have to yourself and your loved ones. Which are you more likely to remember in ten years: The times you stayed late at the office to get a head start on some paperwork, or the times you spent playing catch with your kids in the backyard?

5. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Had Fun

Speaking of playing catch, when is the last time you forgot all about your earthly worries and just had fun?

If you really can’t remember, something is definitely wrong.

Many of us fall under the impression that “fun” is something kids have before they enter the real world, at which point your life consists of work, work, work. Some of us mistakenly define ourselves by the amount of work we do and the sacrifices we make.

We all make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean our entire lives should be dedicated to making money and slaving away behind a desk. We should work to be able to enjoy the times we have away from our jobs.

Spend some time doing what you love. Go for a hike. Grab some ice cream. Hit some balls at the driving range. Do whatever you can that, for at least a short period of time, helps you remember what it’s like to be a kid again. You’ll thank yourself for it.

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6. You Don’t Feel Like Yourself Anymore

This is it, right here:

Neglecting the importance of self care can lead to you truly forgetting who you are. What your dreams and goals were. What you always thought your purpose in life was.

And it’s incredibly disheartening.

When you no longer know why you’re getting out of bed in the morning. When you go through your day looking forward to sitcom reruns at night. When you can’t even enjoy those sitcoms because you know the next day will be more of the same.

When this realization hits you, you need to take action immediately. Take some time for yourself. Figure out what you need to do to get back on track in life. Whether this is a change in careers, or a weekend away with your loved ones, do whatever it takes to start feeling like “you” again.

Otherwise, what’s the point in living?

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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