10 Telltale Signs You Are Not Taking Care of Yourself And What to Do Instead!
A few years ago, I met with a friend of mine – one I hadn’t seen for some time – so I was surprised to see dark bags under her eyes, her health declining, and her eyes losing their twinkle. When I asked about her well-being, she told me that she was taking care of herself, even though I could see that was far from the truth.
Life these days might be a whirlwind of deadlines, to-do lists, and endless errands so it’s fair if we – once in a while – forget to take care of ourselves. What we fail to understand is that self-care isn’t just about relaxing after a long day; it goes beyond that. It’s a practice that allows us to take care of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Despite its benefits on our mental well-being, we take the act of self-care too lightly. I know…I know…you will say, “But I am taking care of myself” And I agree! But what if the thing you think is self-care, isn’t self-care? What if you’re not doing self-care right?
Today, I’ll help you understand the signs you’re not focusing on yourself – not truly – how it is affecting you, and what you can do instead to care for yourself.
Signs You’re Not Practicing Self-Care
Self-care can be complex so I get it if you feel confused about whether you’re doing it right. Here are the signs that you are not taking care of yourself or what you’re doing isn’t exactly the type of self-care you need;
- You are neglecting your basic needs. You consistently skip meals, neglect sleep, and avoid exercising. If you’re neglecting your basic needs, then it’s a sign you’re not focusing on yourself as you should.
- You are overworking and don’t take time for relaxation. You are always on the clock, available for a quick work call or an errand. This is another sign that you are not taking care of yourself. If this continues, then it could even lead to burnout, so beware.
- You are ignoring your emotional health and needs. You have begun to suppress your feelings and emotions instead of seeking help when you feel overwhelmed. This is a big red flag that you’re not focusing on yourself.
- You keep saying “yes” even when you want to say “no”. Yep! This is another sign you’re not taking care of yourself or taking self-care seriously. You find it hard to say “no” and because of this, you overcommit to others. You also allow others to invade your space and boundaries because of this habit.
- You engage in negative self-talk. If you’ve lately found yourself constantly self-criticizing, then take it as a red flag that you’ve been neglecting yourself. Self-neglect can look a lot like a lack of self-compassion, so beware of this habit as well.
- You spend more time on social media. Your screen time has taken a hike in the last few days and you spend excessive hours scrolling through your social media. This habit might seem to you as relaxing but in reality, it can drain your energy and have consequences on your mental and physical health.
- You avoid spending time with yourself. If you’re constantly surrounded by people or distractions, then this is also a sign that your self-care has turned into self-neglect. You avoid spending time in self-introspection and this can take a toll on your overall well-being.
- You have set high expectations for yourself. Setting impossibly high standards for yourself is another sign you’ve been neglecting self-care. This habit of yours can cause you undue stress and disappointment.
- You neglect your hobbies. Yes, this is another sign you’re not taking care of yourself. Skipping hobbies or neglecting things and activities that interest you can rob you of your relaxation time and joy.
- You feel guilty for self-care. If you’ve begun to feel guilty for taking care of yourself, then take it as a sign that you are not doing self-care right. You can’t always run on low fuel, your engine might give up one day, right? So, if you feel guilt for self-care, check in within and see where this response is coming from and how to address it.
What Happens When You Don’t Take Care of Yourself?
Self-neglect can take a huge toll on your overall health and well-being and can have some serious consequences. In many cases, self-neglect or not taking proper care of yourself can cause increased stress levels, burnout, and emotional exhaustion. When you ignore your emotional needs and health, it can present a high risk of developing depression or anxiety. Interestingly, not taking care of yourself can be a sign of depression.
Self-neglect also includes a lack of a well-balanced diet, poor sleep quality, and lack of daily exercise or physical activity. This can eventually lead to physical health problems. When you constantly push yourself out of your limits and without pausing to take proper care of yourself, then you may experience a decline in your productivity as well.
A 2019 study also suggests that when you neglect self-care or don’t take time for self-care then it might cause low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, fatigue, depression, low morality, and even heart disease.
So, what do you do to take care of yourself? Take a look!
What to Do to Focus on Yourself?
1. Prioritize Your Basic Needs
Make sure you meet your basic needs at least. Eat your meals on time, make sure your meals are well-balanced, you get sufficient sleep, and you get a lot of physical exercise. All these activities can help increase your happy hormones which, in turn, can help you feel relaxed and happy.
2. Set Boundaries
I know how hard it can be to set boundaries with loved ones but you need to learn to say “no” when necessary. Establish some boundaries and let others know when you’re available and when to not disturb you.
3. Express Your Feelings
Try not to suppress your feelings or bottle them up for later. If you feel strongly about something, express it clearly. You can journal your feelings, talk to someone, or consider seeking a professional counselor for some advice.
4. Allow Room for “Me Time”
Even if your being is against it, try to allow some time for “me time” or alone time. Dedicate this time to do things you enjoy – you can read your favorite books, paint, doodle, or just do nothing. Yes, even doing nothing but lounging on your couch can count as alone time if you use this time for introspection.
5. Become More Mindful
You can also learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. I enjoy washing my dishes as a mindfulness practice but you can figure out what you enjoy with some trial and error. You can also practice deep breathing when you feel overwhelmed or just another practice to your daily routine.
6. Go on a Digital Detox
If you truly want to focus on yourself, then you need to limit your screen time. You can go on a digital detox and engage in more face-to-face or offline interactions with people around you. Trust me, the more you meet people outside a virtual space, the more you will feel better and grow.
7. Be More Self-Compassionate
If you find yourself self-criticizing, then quietly turn your thoughts in the opposite direction. Learn to become more self-compassionate and kind to yourself. If you are not focusing on yourself and want to take care of yourself more, then you can use positive affirmations to slowly work on your inner peace and positivity.
8. Seek Professional Help
If you think that you have been neglecting self-care for a long time now, then don’t be afraid to seek help and support from others, especially a professional. A therapist or a counselor can always help you get back on track and guide you toward the right self-care routine.
9. Delegate Tasks Wherever You Can
It’s OK to share responsibilities with others if you can’t do anything beyond your limits. If you are pushing your limits then it’s not self-care, quite the opposite. So instead of overcommitting and overworking, focus on what you can do. This will also help you free up some time for yourself that you can dedicate to self-care.
10. Celebrate Small Victories
It’s your small victories that will get you closer to the big wins! Acknowledge the care you’re doing and reward yourself for it. No matter how small your victories have been, try to work on your self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s also the most effective way to focus on yourself.
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” – Katie Reed
Remember, self-care isn’t a selfish act but a practice that is most important for your overall well-being and health. If you notice the signs that you are not taking care of yourself or focusing on your needs as you should, then pay attention to the above-listed tips to guide you through it all. Recognizing the signs of self-neglect and incorporating self-care tips into your daily routine can help you lead a more fulfilling life.
So, what are you waiting for? Start today with the tips I’ve mentioned in the article and say goodbye to self-neglect once and for all.
Did you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this blog with your friends and family and remind them how self-care is a non-negotiable part of their lives!
Take Care and Be Well!