Why you shouldn't put off self-care and how to make it a priority

Self-care is essential to our wellbeing, yet we often put it on the back burner and prioritise so many other things in our lives.

Whether it’s due to a busy schedule or a belief that self-care is selfish, many of us struggle with making self-care a priority. However, research shows that neglecting self-care can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental health. So, if you’re putting self-care at the bottom of your to-do list, you are not alone.

On average, people only spend 15 minutes a day on health-related self-care and whilst something is better than nothing, the more time you can spare to look after yourself the better.

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 44% of Americans reported that their stress levels have increased over the past five years. Additionally, 56% of respondents say that they experience significant levels of stress related to their work. These findings are worrying, as chronic stress has been linked to numerous health problems, including:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • heart disease
  • obesity

The thing is, when we neglect self-care, we’re more likely to experience burnout, which can lead to a decline in productivity levels, as well as physical and mental exhaustion. The problem usually isn’t that we’re unaware of the importance of self-care, but rather the reasons why we put it at the bottom of our list.

Why You Shouldn't Put Off Self Care and How to Make It a Priority

Why do we neglect self-care?

There are several reasons why we neglect self-care, including:

Time

Many of us lead such busy lives, with work, family, and social commitments taking up most of our time. Once we’ve done all of this we often feel that there’s not enough time in the day to take care of ourselves.

Guilt

Maybe you believe that self-care is selfish or that you’re neglecting other responsibilities by taking time for yourself.

Lack of knowledge

Some of us may not have a clear understanding of what self-care is or how to practice it.

Prioritisation

Very often we simply prioritise other things in our lives over self-care, such as work, family, and social obligations.

Stigma

There can sometimes be a stigma associated with self-care. For example some men often believe that self-care is a sign of weakness. While mums feel as though they should always put their children before themselves to avoid judgement.

How to make self-care a priority

Putting self-care at the bottom of our to-do list is never a good idea and can lead to so many problems in the long run. So it’s really important that you find ways to prioritise self-care, make it a regular part of your routine, and incorporate it into your daily life.

Here are some tips on how to make looking after YOU a priority…

Schedule it

Scheduling self-care into your calendars, makes it a priority, and you’re more likely to follow through. Set aside time for yourself each day, even if it’s just 10 minutes before you go to bed. Once you get into a routine you can gradually carve out more time.

Take small steps

Start small by incorporating small moments of self-care into your daily routine. For example, try taking deep breaths throughout the day, going for a walk, or listening to music.

Identify what works for you

Everyone’s different and what calms and relaxes one person won’t necessarily work for another. Experiment with different self-care activities until you find what works best for you. It could be anything from taking bubble baths to reading a book.

Practice self-compassion

Keep in mind that self-care isn’t selfish; it is essential for your wellbeing. Look after your mental health in the same way that you’d look after your physical health. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to prioritise self-care.

Seek support

Talk to your friends, family, or healthcare provider about your needs and ask for support in prioritising self-care. If you need some help with childcare or household chores so you can free up some time, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Putting self-care at the bottom of your to-do list is not uncommon, but it is detrimental to your overall wellbeing and happiness. Practicing self-care is not selfish, and is necessary for your physical and mental health. By prioritising self-care, you can prevent burnout, reduce stress levels, and improve your overall quality of life. So… make time for yourself, identify what works for you, and practice self-compassion. Remember, self-care is essential, and you deserve it!