Are you making mistakes with your self-care?
This is part 3 of a series on self-care. If you missed the previous posts, check out this post about self-care for beginners, and this post about practicing effective self-care. I’ve been on a bit of hiatus for a lot of different reasons, so this post is much later than anticipated, but more on that later…
I know it might seem odd, that you can make mistakes with self-care. But it’s easier than you may think. While we may have the best intentions when it comes to our self-care routines, we may actually be doing more harm than good. In this post, I’ll cover the top 5 self-care mistakes we can make, and how to avoid falling victim to them.
Self-Care Mistake #1: Overindulgence
Raise your hand if you’ve ever pigged out in the name of self-care. 🙋 I definitely have! It may seem like self-care to consume anything you want – whether it’s food, alcohol, Netflix, or shopping binges – when you normally restrain yourself. But the truth is, overindulgence can actually create even more problems (and I’m not just talking weight gain or hangovers!).
When we overindulge after a period of restraint, we’re more likely to feel guilty and then engage in self-punishment. We end up feeling much worse than we did before we indulged. This creates an endless cycle of restriction, reward, and guilt. This is practically the opposite of caring for ourselves!
It is important to treat yourself, but there is a difference between enjoying one treat when you normally don’t have any, to eating a whole bag of donut holes in one sitting (yes, I did that!). If you feel you need a break from some sort of self-imposed restrictions, maybe the self-care you really need is to reevaluate those restrictions to see if they’re something that is really serving you.
It’s like the saying “instead of daydreaming about a vacation, try building a life you don’t need a vacation from”. Instead of restricting yourself to the point where you feel so deprived that you overindulge as a “treat”, work towards finding a balance between restraint and allowing yourself to enjoy things in moderation.
Disclaimer: If you are a recovering addict and are following a specific treatment plan that completely does away with the thing you’re addicted to – this is not what I’m talking about here! Please seek the help of a licensed professional and follow their guidance. You can read my full disclaimer here.
Self-Care Mistake #2: Confusing Self-Care with Self-Soothing
As I discussed in a previous blog post, self-soothing is not the same as self-care. We sometimes confuse one for the other in our attempts to practice self-care, whether we know it or not.
Self-soothing is when we engage in activities that might make us feel better in the moment, but don’t really do anything to help you long-term (like overindulgence, for example).
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes we need to start with self-soothing before we can move to self-care when we’re in crisis mode.
But in order to feel long-term relief, we have to focus on the activities that promote lasting peace – not just momentary satisfaction. This is what differentiates self-care from self-soothing. It’s not just something you do one to feel better in the moment, but a constant way of caring for yourself to promote your wellbeing.
Self-Care Mistake #3: Thinking Self-Care is a One & Done Thing
Self-care is about things we do on a consistent basis. There is no silver bullet self-care technique that is going to fix all your problems the first time you do it.
You didn’t develop unhealthy habits instantly – why would you be able to undo them with one yoga class or healthy meal?
The biggest mistake you can make with self-care is giving up before you’ve given it a chance to take effect. Change takes time, and it’s only with consistent practice that you’ll see the benefits of your new self-care routine.
Self-Care Mistake #4: Using Self-Care to Avoid Things
It’s natural for us to want to escape from things when life gets overwhelming. There’s no doubt that I still fall into this habit from time to time. Sometimes a bit of an escape is necessary to get some distance between yourself and whatever it is that has you feeling overwhelmed.
But for long-term results, using your self-care as a way to avoid dealing with your problems completely isn’t the way to approach things.
Self-care is meant to renew us and sustain us, and to give us what we need to be able to face our problems in a healthy way. When we use it as a way to escape our problems, we’re undermining any benefit we may be able to get from it.
As psychologist Carl Jung said, “what you resist not only persists, but it grows in size.” This means that while you may feel temporary relief while you use your self-care practice to escape your troubles, eventually you’ll have to confront them. And more often than not, the problem will be worse than when you first faced it.
So make sure that you’re using your self-care practice to help strengthen your resolve, renew your energy, and give you the courage and confidence you need to move through your challenges.
Self-Care Mistake #5: Not Asking For Help
I’ll be the first to admit that asking for help is not my favorite thing to do – especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Sometimes, it’s because I feel embarrassed that I need help, other times it’s because I don’t want to seem needy or be a burden. Can you relate?
What I’ve learned from having a chronic illness and needing help a lot more than I used to, is that asking for help can actually give us more of a sense of relief than trying to do everything on our own. When we’re not using up all our energy trying to do something we’re really struggling with, we have more energy and space in our minds and bodies to deal with whatever is going on.
And this applies to self-care too. If you’re having a hard time remembering to take breaks, or need support with ideas for what self-care techniques to start with, or any number of other things – asking a trusted friend or loved one for help can be the game-changer you need. Especially if you’re completely new to the self-care world.
So don’t be afraid to ask for help – we all need it at some point! And if you’re wanting to get to the bottom of your struggles and get help personalizing a self-care plan to really help you move forward, I can help! Just head here to learn more about how a session with me can give you the support you need.
Now that you know about the biggest mistakes, it’s time to get started on your self-care routine.
Like I’ve said before, self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, extravagant, or complicated. Find 1 simple thing you can do to bring more joy and peace to your life, and do it consistently. Over time, you’ll no doubt see big changes from this little shift (for more on how this concept works, check out this blog post!).
If you’re wanting some ideas to help you get started, sign up for the free eBook below. It’s got more great info on why self-care is important, some great ideas to help you get started, and more!
In my next post, I’ll share some of my favorite self-care practices and (free) tools I use to support me in my self-care.
Until next time,