If you are struggling even thinking about doing things for you and the idea of self-care, don’t worry you are not alone. It has been found that only 6.6% of adults over the age of 25 carry out some form of self-care each day. It is hard to even contemplate the idea of taking time for you if you feel that your life is jammed packed full as it is. Working full-time, an endless to-do list, dashing here and there to get errands done and looking after your kids and families. It is no wonder at the end of the day you are exhausted and the thought of factoring more things into your day feels too much to do. However, the mistake many people make is that they only start to pay attention to themselves when things start backfiring or their mental or physical health begins to suffer.
What I want you to know is that self-care does not have to be another thing you ‘have to’ or ‘should be’ doing in your day. The reason self-care can feel like it is too much to even contemplate is because the most common advice for self-care activities are externally-focused. For example, have a nice bubble bath, read a book or go for a long walk. Rather than ‘doing’ more, I want to introduce the concept that you can start self-care by focusing internally rather than externally.
The stress of your busy life will be manifesting in your beliefs, thoughts and feelings. In other words, when you think a certain thought such as, “I have to get all of this done today”, it causes you to feel a certain way, such as stressed or overwhelmed, which causes you to act in a certain way, such as rushing around everywhere, which causes certain results, such as feeling exhausted and burnt out with no energy to think about yourself.
To start to bring in self-care to your busy life, you can forget doing more and instead turn your focus inwards to your thoughts and feelings.
- Self-care thinking
Keep in mind that how you think matters and what you are telling yourself becomes your reality. Thoughts of, “I can’t do that”, “what if I fail”, “I can’t cope” will all have an impact on how you feel and the subsequent actions you decide to take. Therefore, it is essential to begin changing the way you talk to yourself. Start catching out the self-critical, negative thoughts and bring in kinder more compassionate language. For example, move from the thought of, “I can’t do that” to “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, but that is ok”. Can you feel the difference? Imagine speaking to yourself in the same way you would to a close friend and notice what changes.
2. Self-care feeling
Thoughts and feelings often go hand in hand, so it is also important to turn the focus inwards and focus on how you feel and your state of being. This all starts with shifting into the right emotion when you wake up. The next time you hit that two-minute snooze or have your morning shower, close your eyes and think about how you would ideally want to feel throughout your day. This may be focused, calm, energetic or joyful for example. Imagine yourself going about your daily routine from this emotional place and how your day would go if you were this person. By mentally rehearsing your day how you ideally want it sets up a blueprint in your mind which will help guide your future decisions and actions. Feel the person you want to be today and take action from that place.
If you have been struggling to even wrap your head around the concept of self-care, wondering; “how do I fit this in when I have so many other important things to do?”, there is an easier way to still look after you without needing to ‘do more’. This concept of internal self-care offers you a way to prioritise your needs in your busy life. Self-care thinking and feeling can be thought of as the foundations to keeping yourself happy and healthy because what you think and how you feel impacts every action you take in your life. Focusing on internal self-care will ultimately help you be able to deal with whatever life throws at you, feel in control, resilient and able to reach your personal and professional goals.