Why you’re doing self-care all wrong

When you hear the phrase self-care, what does it mean to you?

Today I’m publishing the first in a series of articles by Jo Hall. She’s a Life & Leadership Coach and former Head of Internal Communication.

She empowers others to reconnect with their true and whole self, reigniting their spark for life with inner clarity, confidence and calm through her coaching programs, E.A.S.E. Framework, and intuitively personalised approach. You can find out more about Jo and her work via her website or connect with her on LinkedIn.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jo for years, and regular readers of my blog will know I was a guest on her podcast earlier this year: What I wish I knew before launching my business.

This week is Heard Mentality Week from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which is a great opportunity to pause, reflect and think about your own mental health and wellbeing.

The article you’re about to read made me stop and think about my own self-care. Jo’s words resonate with me and I hope you find them helpful too.

I’ll hand you over…

Jo Hall

Why you’re doing self-care all wrong

We all know self-care is important, but what comes to mind when you stop to think about it? What does it mean to you?

Is it enjoying a long soak in a bubble bath?  Snatching thirty minutes to put your feet up? Or treating yourself to a nice bunch of flowers, slice of cake or a bottle of your favourite tipple? 

Maybe it’s all of them!

There’s enough in the news, magazines, or on social media for us to know that ‘self-care’ is really important for our health and wellbeing and something we should incorporate into our lives. Yet often we’re doing it all wrong or not at all!   

If the afore-mentioned actions are something you do as part of your attempt at self-care, or they’re well-meant intentions not yet in place, then read on to understand how you can do self-care properly. By properly, I mean having an approach to self-care that has a beneficial impact and lasting improvement on your overall wellbeing, not just a fleeting ‘feel-good’ moment.

Because if you’re stressed out, working long hours or constantly giving your all to and saying ‘Yes’ to everyone except yourself, then a half-hour dip in a bath, no matter how bubbly or aromatic, is not going to solve the real issues or underlying stresses you have going on.

Self-care is not a treat to yourself every now and then

Self care starts from the inside, not the outside-in. 

Self-care is about consciously tuning in to and asking what you need, physically and emotionally, and making sure those needs are prioritised and met.

Self-care is the consistent recharging and protection of your batteries so you can cope with life’s challenges.

Self-care is doing the right thing for your mind, body and soul, even if it’s not the easiest thing to do.

Put yourself first, guilt-free

We’re conditioned to believe that putting others first is a sign of a good person, kindness or dedication, so unsurprisingly self-care isn’t something we prioritise because we have learned to feel bad, selfish or guilty for honouring our own needs.  

Putting yourself first, is a major step to take on the path to real self-care. The saying, ‘You cannot pour from an empty glass’ strikes a chord here.  Honouring your emotional and physical needs is about ensuring your mind and body are kept well, so then you can serve yourself and others better.  It’s a win-win!

But if you think you’re being selfish by putting your needs first, the mere fact that you think this way means you’re not! 

When you honour your own needs you’re role-modelling to others the true meaning of self-respect and self-worth, giving permission to and paving the way for others to consider and experience greater levels of self-care and wellbeing too. 

It’s because we’re all so caught up in doing, people-pleasing, working harder and disrespecting our own needs that we have such high levels of stress and mental and physical ill-health in society today. Someone needs to lead by example, so why not you?

Saying ‘No’

If you’ve ever had that overwhelming feeling of stress or resentment immediately after you’ve said ‘Yes’ to something, it’s because in that moment you’ve given your power away and ignored your own needs. 

It’s your body’s innate reaction to not being listened to. People-pleasers amongst you, take note: Saying ‘No’ is the most liberating and powerful self-care word you can bring into your vocabulary.  

So next time you’re faced with a request, an ask, a choice, take a moment to tune in and feel into what your body needs and calls you to do.  If it’s an immediate ‘Yeah’ and you feel lit up by the prospect, then by all means, say ‘Yes’, but if it’s anything less or a niggly, doubting feeling, then say ‘No’.  

Further reading via All Things IC: How to say no to stakeholders.

How to say no to stakeholders

Self-care is all about saying ‘No’ to things that are going to add to your stress and chip away at your wellbeing.  It’s ‘No’ to the extra work request, the late meeting, the party invite when you haven’t the energy.  Setting and honouring boundaries that serve you best are a vital component of self-care. 

And that includes saying ‘No’ to things that are personally harder to decline … the alcohol, takeaway food, sweet treat, not exercising and late nights. They’re fine in moderation, but not at the expense of your wellbeing.      

Listen in, you first

True self care runs deep through your whole belief system and connection with yourself.  It starts with how you feel inside, a conscious awareness of what you say to yourself and what you believe about yourself. 

Listen within you.  Your body will guide you to what you need.

Be kind to you. 

Honour you. 

Value you.

Be true to you. 

THEN true self-care will become part of you and your wellbeing and resilience will skyrocket too.

Post author: Jo Hall.

Thank you very much Jo. What are you taking away from this article? You can find out more about Jo and her work via her website or connect with her on LinkedIn.

First published on the All Things IC blog 17 September 2021

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