5 MINUTE READ: Why are women so resistant to SELF-CARE?
This is part two of my SELF-CARE blog series and I want to talk to you today about why women find it so hard to look after themselves!
As I talked about in last week’s blog (http://makingthingseasy.com/learning-self-care/), it’s important to define what SELF-CARE really looks like for YOU.
But essentially, it’s a set of behaviours, habits and actions that help us avoid getting tired, sick, burnt out, stressed, overwhelmed, unhealthy and unhappy.
What I’m seeing more and more, especially with women, but men too, is that people (often without even realizing it) are losing control over their time, boundaries and choices. In many cases, the lack of self-care builds very slowly as people’s tolerance levels go up AND what I call ‘cra*py habits’ sneak in. The busier people get the less aware they are of what they’re doing and/or choosing to allow to happen.
More and people are using words like ‘HAVE TO’ and ‘MUST’ and ‘SHOULD’ around choices, actions and boundaries, rather than ‘I’M DECIDING TO’, ‘I’M CHOOSING’ or ‘YES, BUT NOT NOW’. People are reactive to information and the influence of others, which tends to be quick and fast-paced, with decisions often based around comparison and / or guilt. This is instead of calmly responding and working out whether what you’re about to do or not do is based on YOUR authentic values, choices and needs. And, whether it’s taking you towards a place of self-care or away from it.
In particular, the more information people take in (which has been exacerbated 1000 fold since the technology explosion of recent years), the more choices there are (and we are living in a BIG CHOICE world right now) and the more information there is about how to look after yourself be healthy (because let’s face it, it’s everywhere!), the worst people’s health and self-care habits seem to be!
So if people know that self-care is hugely life-enhancing, helps them become healthy (and I’m not talking just fit or slim here) and positively influences authentic happiness, what are the reasons so many people are resistant to it?!
Here are my top five…..
Denial – There are three forms of denial which are really important to understand if you’re a brush it under the carpet person:
IT DOES NOT EXIST – simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether – can also be what you are doing or what someone else is doing
IT IS NOT AS BAD AS I THINK IT IS – minimization: admit the fact but deny its seriousness
IT IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILTY OR I DON’T WANT TO TAKE RESPONSIBILTY – projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility or blaming someone else.
And I would say that generally speaking a lot of people are in fact in denial about their lack of self-care. Whether it be not finding the time to exercise, working long hours, emotionally eating or drinking to cope with the imbalances going on in their lives, being pulled along from pillar to post in a busy world, not making enough time for relaxation and rest, not sleeping properly or tolerating high stress levels to name some – the list is endless – it’s on the increase.
On BEST, we get people to remove the things they’ve brushed under their denial carpet and I’d encourage you to do the same! (Beware – it can make you feel uncomfortable – more on that below!). And on the SELF-CARE bootcamp, we teach women (positively!) to take command of their boundaries, choices, language and actions and encourage a nice easy switch from self-destruct habits to self-construct ones. Your body and mind respond incredibly well to these changes (results) and the relief from taking responsibility (ease) really is profound.
Your beliefs – We all have beliefs and some are self-propelling and self-constructing but many are self-destructing or self-limiting. Perhaps you have a belief that to get anywhere in life we have to PUSH PUSH PUSH or WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. Or that if you work steady and take breaks, you might miss something. That being healthy is boring, that being fit is too much of an effort or that you’ll become am outcast if you reduce your wine intake. All of these can be flipped upside down because beliefs (over time) can be changed. Plus, for many a change in your language can have the most powerful effect on motivation. For example, one client I worked with kept saying ‘ I must create more work-life balance’, but actually the word balance wasn’t a powerful one for her, but bliss was. I then got her to ask herself this question each day… ‘ Is this taking me towards a place of bliss or away from it’. Bingo! Another client used to say, “I have to get fit again’, but actually she had a belief that she couldn’t get fit again so there was a massive disconnect. I then got her to change the sentence to ‘I am choosing to become strong’ and voila, the motivation was there. Beliefs are formed to help us make sense of the world but in many cases they become mental excuses or barriers. Ask yourself what beliefs you have around self-care and / or looking after yourself?
Cultural habits – A habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”. But habits are learned behavior which can be unlearned just as easily as they’re picked up. So this is GREAT news! But it’s not just personal habits like evening wine drinking, week day morning lattes, late nights or over technology use, it’s cultural ones too. It has become the norm to be busy and become the norm that success is typically defined by money, earnings, status and material things. Read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive for more on this, and in fact her new Sleep book is pretty good too. She has become a pioneer alongside people like me who are saying to women ‘ YOU DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU’ and ‘SLEEP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU REALISE!’ and ‘IF YOU’RE EATING RUBBISH, OR DRINKING TOO MUCH OR NOT EXERCISING, THIS IS A SIGN SOMETHING MIGHT NEED TO BE LOOKED AT’. And of course thrown into all of this is a lot of cultural habits, including the increased use of technology which are starting to rapidly impact women’s health. Over work, lack of sleep, increased technology use, not finding the time for exercise, alcohol and sugar are all massive hormone disrupters. We are sitting on a dis-ease time bomb. And it’s not just the physical, but mental health issues that are on the increase too. All the afore-mentioned increase anxiety, depression and more. Come on ladies, you’re better than this!
Guilt – Part of the issue is that more and more people don’t know how to properly switch off. People quite simply are not giving themselves permission to take breaks, prioritise their workouts over work load, rest when they need to, negotiate a better working pattern that works for them, push things on their to do list back a week or month, ask for support if struggling in the home etc. This happens mostly because of three things – a) Fear, b) What others think and c) A lack of confidence to ask and create a life with better self-care boundaries. As adults, we essentially become our own parents. So parent yourself positively and with as much support and permission to do the things that are important to you and enhance your health, happiness and wellbeing. Encourage more breaks and down time, teach yourself to listen to YOU not the noise around you and ask yourself this question ‘ If I carry on living the way I am, where will I be in 12 months, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?” Creating more self-care is often not about massive overhaul, it’s the little things you can do each day – your new self-care habits – that stack up.
SELF-CARE can feel strange – Women aren’t used to feeling relaxed, doing what’s right for them at the expense of others’, ignoring what others think, giving themselves permission to do the things they want to and stepping out of their comfort zone. And when things feel strange or uncomfortable, our subconscious minds send us on high alert frenzy that we are better going back to old habits to keep us in a familiar place. Embrace the strange feelings you may feel from creating more self-care, see them as ‘new’ rather than ‘strange’ (the power of language again!) and BE PATIENT. In a quick fix culture, some women I’ve worked with, feel like otheir new self-care habits aren’t working. Give yourself a month rather than a few days and be prepared to feel strangely amazing!
Self-care is a mindset and a way of being. It isn’t about slowing down, giving up your job, having to make lots of effort to be healthier, being weak and forcing yourself to become more relaxed. It’s actually a very empowering place to be, because YOU define your own self-care plan and what goes on in your life. It’s about balance – getting all the things in your life in the right proportion for YOU and about gently easing into a new way of life.
The SELF-CARE bootcamp starts on 24th April and is a life-enhancing food, fitness and feelings program that will help you:
- Put yourself first
- Look after yourself like never before
- Take command of your time, boundaries and choices
- Prioritise your health, happiness & fitness goals
- Get you body and mind transformation results like never before
And learn the art of SELF-CARE!
Full details of the SELF-CARE bootcamp can be found HERE. Any questions, please give us a shout!