Are you tired of hearing the words self care too? You feel burned out so you try harder but no matter what you do, self care doesn’t work?

Yep, it’s a phenomenon. We need to take care of ourselves, yet for some reason doing so feels exhausting to even begin thinking about.

You’re not alone, and I’m about to tell you why this is happening and what you can do instead.

What is self care?

I thought we’d better start with a basic definition of what self care is and isn’t to get us warmed up and have a better understanding of why you might be going wrong.

Self care is exactly what it says it is: it’s the act of taking care of yourself. It’s meeting your own needs, it’s setting boundaries, saying no, eating and sleeping well…a whole variety of things. One thing they all have in common: they play a big part in your emotional, mental and physical health.

When you start to prioritise your health, that’s when you know you’re truly taking care of yourself.

Why don’t we take care of ourselves?

Excuse me while I go off on a tangent here, but I know that eating well (hello, snacking a little something in between meetings and forgetting to eat with your busy schedule with the kids!) getting some exercise in and going to bed early (eugh!) can come last on your list.

I really think that there are two main issues at play here:

So you push it to the back of your mind. Health becomes something you’ll deal with when it’s a good time for you. You’ll do it in the spring, you say, you buy all the tupperware to start freezing meals then get caught up with life, you buy a fitness program but can’t schedule the time to do it.

Self care feels like a chore

Another core issue here is that self care feels like another box to be checked off a to-do list and that is just not something that’s motivating to do when it’s right up there with cleaning out the fridge.

It has to feel good, nourishing and rewarding for you to be able to get into it.

Do you know what’s missing?

Your big WHY.

It’s no use trying to eat well just because, well – it’s healthy right? You have to be doing it because you’ll feel:

When we associate a real, long- lasting positive emotion with the goal at heart, that’s when we can start to witness motivation creep in.

What you can do instead 

You’ve probably heard this before but long soaks in a bubble bath and marathons of your fave series will only get you so far. (And I have nothing against a good series!)

You need to get to the very core of what your needs are to be able to tend to them. Here’s how:

1. Clear out your schedule before anything else

You want to have more time to do things that fill you up? You can’t unfortunately magic more time into your life, but you can take a look at your calendar and start looking at what you can get rid of. 

What can you actually NOT do? Can you buy a cake on your way to a birthday party rather than make it at home? Can you skip the school meeting and ask dad to go or ask your friend to take notes? Do you really need the extra meeting to go over the project you’ve already outlined with your fussy client?

I challenge you to grab a pen right now and cancel a couple of things off your schedule this week.

This might also mean reconsidering the roles everyone has in the family. It might mean delegating tasks even if it feels hard to let go of the control. It might mean calling in extra help.

Read also: 10 Steps to Building your Self Care Routine

2. Take away rather than add to your schedule

Do you ever have the impulse to fill in a space as soon as it appears? Stop doing that! Just because you have the new space, doesn’t mean it has to be filled up straight away.

Now, if you’re like me and you’re used to being overly productive, then space can feel daunting at first. A whole chunk of doing nothing? What is that?! 

Get comfortable with the nothingness. Program nothing. Let the moment be, then see what surges from your heart and act on that. Sometimes we need to quieten the mind to understand what our body and heart needs – it will start coming intuitively as long as you don’t always fill your schedule gaps with to-do’s.

You will survive even if you don’t do an extra washing machine or respond to an email straightaway.

self care doesn't work and what to do instead
Photo by Harper Sunday on Unsplash

3. Implement boundaries around your energy

Once you’ve cleared out your schedule and gotten used to having gaps of nothingness dotted here and there, then comes the part in which you need to say no to what doesn’t feel great to do.

Not everyone and everything can have direct access to your energy. Your energy is precious and special and should be treated as so.

You don’t owe anyone your time, and it’s okay to want to be alone sometimes. Do whatever you need to fill your cup without feeling guilty about it.

Situations in which you might need more boundaries:

When you become a priority, everything else comes second.

4. Prioritise your joy

Remember when you were a kid and you had no obligations or responsibilities and you could just do what you want?

Well, I’m not suggesting you go back in time to that point, but do use that connection to what you need right now that children have.

When you’re not sure what to make a priority in your life, hold yourself and ask:

Of course you can’t run away from filing your taxes or paying the bills, but you can learn how to give yourself joy even while being an adult.

Start connecting to your inner child and she will guide you to your real core needs.

I hope this article helps, and you’ll be able to implement more self care in your life now you have a good base for doing so. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts! 

And if you’d like more on Self Care, you can purchase my Workbook below.