Why We Don’t Practise Self Care

Mental Fitness, Self Care, Workouts

Every time I get sick – usually by becoming so exhausted I can’t function anymore – I say the same thing to myself: ‘I’m shutting down purely because I stopped looking after myself. My body is forcing me to take a break so I can stop, and take care of myself.’ I remind myself that I need to integrate self care into daily life, instead of waiting until I am forced to.

So why do I (and you, probably) keep doing the same thing? Plenty of reasons, but here are some suspects:

  • Not feeling like I should care about, or like I deserve to look after myself. It’s easy to get into a slightly nihilistic, ‘nothing matters so why should I matter’ attitude about self care. In the end though, that thought path doesn’t offer much value to me — but it is familiar and actionless.
  • Enjoying the self-destructive cycle. Like when someone tidies after it’s been a pigsty for ages – there’s a weird satisfaction in getting back to square one. I’m the same with my room, repeatedly letting it get bad and then cleaning it in within about a week.
  • Not observing my limits for energy, etc. I’ve been experimenting with those limits at the moment, by seeing how much I can take. However, I’m not being mindful of my current level as a cut off point, only focusing on where I think I ‘should’ be.
  • Not being consistent in how, or when to practise self care. When I’m doing a lot of new things I fall back on fulfilling basic needs like sleep, eating and hydrating. I often underestimate the importance of just those things.

I think for once I have caught myself and started to rest before I got too bad. But there’s still room to improve. I have been very good at pushing into discomfort (the ‘push’) skills detailed in my post on designing a mental health workout. Regardless, it’s clear I’ve been neglecting the ‘pull’ (or self care) skills quite a bit, which is a bit like exercising vigorously every day without rest.

Looking over my plan, I can see I’ve dedicated hardly any time or thought to it in my daily plan, despite doing some extremely tiring and difficult things!

(Like karaoke… Never thought that would happen)

Actions:

  • Clarify what counts as self care and not self care for me: what supports me? What makes it harder to do what I want to do and how can I address those things
  • Make focus on ‘basic’ self care such as sleep, eating right, etc, a priority in my plan.
  • Plan in time to do that self care, and check in more often with myself.