How to Stop Feeling Guilty about Self-Care

Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years. You keep hearing over and over how important it is, even how essential it is. You know you need to do it, but there’s this part of you that feels guilty about it. It seems selfish and indulgent. Who has time for that? I’ve got things that need to be handled, too many things on my to-do list to stop and take a bubble bath.

Why is self-care important?

The reason it’s so important is that when you don’t take time for self-care, you’ll actually perform worse.

Let’s say you’ve got a big presentation coming up and you work your ass off day and night. You eat takeout all the time because you don’t have the time or energy to cook. You stay up late working on it, consistently not getting enough sleep. You’re exhausted all the time, totally miserable. You start to feel resentful that work has overtaken your life. You go into your presentation tired, overworked, and jittery.

What about another version of you that sets aside time every day for something you enjoy doing? You do your best to cook at home, and when you do order out, it’s from your favorite restaurant. You make an intention to go to bed at a reasonable hour every night, stopping work by a certain time. You go into your presentation clear-headed and energized (and maybe a little nervous, that’s OK).

Who do you think will give a better presentation? More importantly, which one of these experiences sounds more enjoyable? 

It seems counter-intuitive, but notice how both these versions of you showed up with a finished presentation even though one spent less time on it. When we’re well-taken care of, we’re able to get more done in the same amount of time as our overworked selves. The “well-rested” version of you is fully present, energized, focused, and using all your brain power. The “overworked” you is undernourished, tired, cranky, and often finds it hard to focus and think clearly. It’s also probably easily distracted.

Maybe it’s not a big presentation, maybe it’s something else in your life. Maybe your day is filled with parenting responsibilities and you’re completely drained. Whatever you’re dealing with day-to-day, self-care is a way to recharge yourself. It’s one of the ways you can handle whatever annoying shit life throws at you without being miserable and anxious all the time. Especially if you’re responsible for others – it’s really a first step to helping your family.

How do I stop feeling guilty about self-care?

OK, you get it, it’s important. So how do you stop feeling guilty about it? One way is to create your own unique version of self-care, called mindful self-care.

Self-care isn’t just bubble baths, face masks, and manicures. That can certainly be a part of your routine, if that’s your thing, but it’s more than that. It’s the things that energize and refresh you. It doesn’t have to be grand and time-consuming either – just taking a few moments to water your plants is self-care. So is gardening, walking, reading, knitting, putting together a puzzle, or therapy. It really comes down to using your time in an intentional way.

By the way, you don’t even have to call it self-care! Your unique version could be called something completely different if you’d like. Maybe it feels more personal to call it recharging your battery, filling your cup, or intentional free time. Don’t worry about what other people do or call it, you get to do your own thing.

I’m trying, but what if I still feel guilty?

Once you’ve started to build up your routine, it’s totally normal to still feel some guilt. Take some time to reflect the next time you feel that little voice telling you there’s no time for such indulgences. Where do you think this message came from? Here are some questions I like to explore with clients:

  1. What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
  2. Did you have a lot of chores and responsibilities growing up?
  3. How did your parents take care of themselves?
  4. How do you help others in distress?

These are just a few questions to help start shifting your mindset from viewing self-care as an indulgent waste of time to a way of taking care of your mental health. It’s an important part of bringing intention into your life by cultivating the kinds of experiences you enjoy, and most importantly, valuing your time.

Is this something you struggle with? Call 512-549-8189 or click here to book an appointment online.

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