I remember the time when I worked 32 days in a row—without a single moment to myself. Here I was, a wellness professional, and I was having a hard time making time for my own self-care.
To be totally honest, this isn't too uncommon, wellness professional or not. Today, we're digital. We're on-the-go. We have devices we carry around with us that allow us to work 24/7 if we so choose. Work is always available.
And while this may seem like it's great for our careers, it can hinder our mental mindset, our connection with ourselves, our creativity, and our performance. If we work around the clock, it's pretty hard (if not impossible) to show up as our best selves. If we don't recharge, we don't allow ourselves to be in our full power.
While each of us is different, here are seven common signs that you need more self-care—and some tips on how to add that in:
1. You get annoyed easily.
When we're centered and taking care of ourselves, we treat others with the same compassion we've been showing ourselves. But without time to ourselves, it's easy to let every little thing that doesn't go according to plan annoy or bother us. Just as they say before any airplane flight, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you assist others. Because if you don't have your own survival mechanisms in place, you can't help anyone else.
What to do: If you find this is you, don't beat yourself up. Show yourself some compassion. Recognize what's really going on here and begin to put a plan of action together—whether that is removing email from your phone on the weekend, saying "NO" more, or having a sit-down with your manager about leaving work on time.
2. You're always late.
With overwhelm, we're always trying to get just one more thing done. And this "one more thing" usually correlates with being late. You're trying to get it all done and your intentions are good, but you being late only winds up creating more stress for you and may make who you're meeting with feel less valued.
You may also be late because your inspiration is gone and you're burnt out.
What to do: Wherever you fall here, give it some thought. You may find you need to cut back on some projects. You may find you need to ask for time off (it can be unpaid if you don't have any). Or you may find you need some deep self-reflection and maybe even a retreat. But once you allow yourself to dig and see what's going on, the answers will come to you for what needs to be shifted in your life.
3. You have a hard time sleeping, or you have anxiety attacks.
Difficulty sleeping can result from many things. But when I see it in clients, it's usually stress-related. If you're having anxiety attacks that also can be a sign your body (and mind) is looking for a release and something in your life needs to be changed. And that change is where self-care comes in.
What to do: Go on a walk when you feel stressed. Release and write out all of your to-do lists in a journal before going to bed. Write a letter to that person who hurt you (with or without sending it). Or schedule a session with a coach.
4. You can't remember the last time you did nothing.
There's a certain feeling of power and accomplishment that comes from the outside world when we're busy, working all the time, and getting things done. But if we don't take the time to recharge ourselves, we miss the energy of enjoying life, nurturing, and fostering our own creative powers and connection with ourselves. It's this balance that allows for a grounded, peaceful person who can show up fully and authentically for their life.
What to do: Make time for yourself. It isn't a bad thing—it's a necessary thing.
5. You constantly feel overwhelmed.
What to do: This one is pretty simple. If you constantly feel overwhelmed, a deep dive into why is needed along with a powerful shift in your day-to-day. This is one tip to sit back, process, and give time to.
6. You never cook, exercise, sleep enough, or reflect.
Cooking, exercising, sleeping, and reflecting are key components of happy, healthy people. We may not always be able to do each of these enough, but if you can never do any of these enough, that's a sure-fire sign you need more self-care.
These very activities—alone—are self-care.
What to do: Begin adding them in by looking at where your time is spent and removing activities that are no longer supporting you or cutting back on some. Once you begin slowly inserting these into your life and you realize how good they feel, they'll most likely stick. So give yourself time, but keep going.
7. A day off feels odd.
If a day off seems foreign to you, you need it more than anyone. Enjoy it. Savor it.
What to do: Spend time doing activities that light up your soul—maybe that's hiking, practicing yoga, attending a cooking class, writing, visiting with friends, journaling, or reading.
Practicing self-care allows us to show up as our best selves, to do our best work, and to live with intention. So while it may seem hard to make it happen at first, it's something that will guide you to showing up in this world as a better human.
Self-care isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign of self-love.