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Why Your Self-Care Routine Isn’t Working – and How To Fix It

Self-care is about much more than brunch and beauty. Here are 8 areas your self-care routine needs to address and things we can do to make self-care more effective.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there’s been a self-care explosion over the past few years. People, especially women, have been awakened to the idea that it’s okay to take care of ourselves. This wonderful revelation acknowledges the culture that demands we “go” and “do” to our own detriment and denounces it. So, we set out to brunch, bubble bath, and mani-pedi ourselves to our hearts’ content.

But why aren’t our hearts content? Why do we come back from vacation needing another one? Why didn’t that extra brownie on Self-care Sunday solve our Monday-Saturday problems? Perhaps it is because we have not been approaching self-care routines holistically. We treat the symptoms of our burnout and fatigue without approaching the underlying disease.

Not all self-care is comfortable
Not all self-care is comfortable.

We tend to concentrate on the physical and mental aspects of our lives for our self-care treatments, but I like how Modern Therapy invites us to approach self-care as a matter of overall health in this article. They break self-care down into eight areas: physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, and financial. Modern Therapy breaks down their definitions and recommendations in the aforementioned post, but today, I want to share mine with you. Here are eight of the ways we approach our self-care routines, eight more ways we probably SHOULD be approaching it.

Physical Self-care

Let’s be honest – physical self-care gets the most of our attention because it feeds our vanity. But just as beauty is only skin deep, our physical self-care routine may not be getting to the heart of the matter.

What We Do: We love getting our hair and nails done, facials, and getting massages. I love being pampered- outer maintenance is wonderful. But what happens when our hairdo is done and those acrylics grow out? Some of us actually use these things as a crutch and become attached to our presentation, not our presence in the world. Or better yet, we end up looking really pretty and really frustrated when our stress returns. Not to mention, many of us are more concerned with our “rims” than we are with what’s under our hood. We end up looking better on the outside than on the inside.

What We Should Also Be Doing: After you get your wig split and your face beat, go and get a good night’s rest. Try that exercise class you’ve been scared of and be more cognizant of what you eat. Get some sleep.

Psychological Self-care

What We Do: Do a one-day unplug from social media or deactivate our profiles for a month. Read self-help books about how to cram more accomplishments into a shorter amount of time.

What We Should Also Be Doing: Unplug from social media for at least a little while every day. I recently set up my phone to wind down after a certain time. Get therapy if you need it. Beware of gross perfectionism and take captive negative thoughts.

Emotional Self-care

This is arguably the area I struggle with the most. Somewhere along the way, I was conditioned to “grin and bear it” and that investing in my emotional health made me a not-so-good sport. I’m still a work in progress, but knowing is half the battle. It is also vital for those of us who are encouragers to put our oxygen masks on first. (Are you always the friend giving others a boost? Check out my post on “jump-starters” here.)

What We Do: I personally bottle everything up inside to the point of unbearable pressure. Others cut off anyone that disagrees with them and labels them as toxic.

What We Should Also Be Doing: Learn to set boundaries and protect our peace AND manage conflict in our healthy relationships. Discover constructive ways to respond to negative situations. Practice FORGIVENESS.

Social Self-care

What We Do: Some of us consume our social life with activities that are unhealthy for us or people that prevent us from growing because its familiar and comfortable. On the contrary, others of us isolate ourselves from meaningful connection or avoid vulnerability in the interest of self-preservation.

What We Should Also Be Doing: Find ways to give back and help others. Ask for help if you need it. Decline (or accept) that invitation you’ve been avoiding.

Professional Self-care

What We Do: Current career culture has demanded work harder and longer to get to the next level, or even just to stay at the one we’re on. Work into the wee hours of the night to “get caught up” or “get ahead.” So many of us work under the gun every single day just to maintain our livelihood, but are we risking our lives? The American Institute of Stress shows some startling statistics implying such.

What We Should Also Be Doing: Replace that job that is overworking and underpaying you. Draw appropriate boundaries for who, when, and how people can contact you. Don’t check or send emails at 2 am.

Environmental Self-care

What We Do: Nothing. No, seriously, this area is probably the easiest to overlook since its factors tend to be ambient noise in life’s soundtrack. Our environment is where the tiniest changes can make the biggest changes in our well-being.

What We Should Also Be Doing: Clean up. Get rid of all that stuff that doesn’t spark joy. Carve out a device-free time or space.

Financial Self-care

What We Do: Retail therapy!! We go buy whatever shiny new item will make us (temporarily) happy. Or we work ourselves to death so we can have more.

What We SHOULD Be Doing: Set a budget and stick to it. Start an emergency fund. Work on your debt payoff strategy.

Spiritual Self-care

What We Do: Go to church for an hour and leave God there. Seek emotional experiences instead of spiritual transformation.

What We Should Also Be Doing: We need to open ourselves to the uncomfortable changes we need to make in life. Carve out time to listen to the Lord and reflect on our gratitude.

In meditating on these things in my own life, I am coming to understand that my self-care routine isn’t just a set of activities to temporarily boost our morale. Some provide immediate relief while others involve short-term discomfort for long-term satisfaction. Self-care, when approached holistically can inspire transformative life-changes.

What new practices are you integrating into your self-care routine this year? Share in the comments below!

3 comments on “Why Your Self-Care Routine Isn’t Working – and How To Fix ItAdd yours →

  1. Great post!! I’m learning to walk away from my office during my lunch time (on most days). That way I can clear my mind for a little while and get some fresh air. If I stay in my office, I have a tendency to want to check my emails or catch on work since I have “extra” time.

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