By Shainna Ali
Source: Psychology Today
Self-care is surging in popularity. According to Apple, self-care was even the most popular app theme last year. You may think it’s just a trend, but the steady increase in popularity over recent years appears to show no signs of slowing down. According to Gracy Obuchowicz, a self-care facilitator, mentor, and coach, this may be because, “People are really hungry for knowledge.” We are beginning to recognize that paying attention to our needs can be used to promote well-being. Neglecting personal care can cause increases in anxiety, distractibility, anger, and fatigue. You may also experience decreases in sleep, relationship satisfaction, self-esteem, empathy, and compassion. Ongoing exposure to stress without proper self-care can put you at risk for serious consequences such as depression and heart disease. As people weight the costs and benefits, more and more are turning to the practice of caring for themselves. Unfortunately, it isn’t common to be met with dismay when a well-intended effort just doesn’t seem to work. Before your discouragement stalls your progress, consider if these five reasons may have served as obstacles in your self-care.
It’s Easier Said Than Done
Forget the notion that self-care is easy. Self-care can be tricky, especially if you’re just beginning to rise to the notion that it is essential. On the other hand, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself, particularly before your loved ones. In situations you are low on energy and short on time, you may be especially likely to give up your own needs for the sake of someone else. Over time this can be dangerous. Also, when caring for others, it is helpful to demonstrate the importance of taking care of yourself to set an example and deter them from self-neglect as well. If someone you know is stranded on the side of the road because their car ran out of gas, do you empty your gas tank for them? Instead, you would likely use what you have to help that person get gas for their tank. Although kind, giving up all of your gas to help someone else creates a new problem altogether. Instead, the more effective way would be to fill your tank so you can better help someone fill theirs.
One and Done
After years of self-neglect, you may be so eager and hungry for self-care that you begin to form unrealistic expectations. However, self-care isn’t a magic pill. There is not a single form of self-care that will have lasting effects with a sole effort. Nevertheless, your determination may have you eagerly anticipating a tremendous effect. What do you notice from the following statements?
I ate a healthy meal but I didn’t lose weight.
I studied for an exam, but I didn’t pass the test.
I submitted a job application, but I haven’t found a job yet.
I took a music class, but I still can’t play the instrument.
Hopefully you’re beginning to hear a peculiar theme. None of these statements are rational. While the former aspect can all potentially be contributors to the effect, making a clear connection from one to the other would be jumping to a conclusion. Self-care is a practice that warrants active attention to strengthen your well-being. Further, self-care is not a singular skill. Instead, self-care includes a wide variety of tasks tailored to meet your diverse needs. Instead of hanging onto a sole method, remember that as your needs vary your methods should differ as well.
Copy & Paste
Although there may be similarities between self-care strategies, self-care is subjective and tends to vary from person to person. There are some forms of self-care that may be beneficial to all, such as getting adequate sleep and hydration. Even for universally beneficial strategies, the need in terms of quantity or quality may differ. You may hear someone rave about their newfound method that has had a clear effect on their wellness and happiness and think to yourself, “Ah-ha! This must be what I’m missing!” It’s possible that it may, but it’s also possible that the effect could not be the same, or may be missing altogether. While it’s beneficial to get inspiration from others, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care.