If you identify with habits like people pleasing, perfectionism, overthinking, overgiving and over-responsibility, odds are you’ve found self-care challenging at times. You might feel as if you’re ‘behind’, that you have to get it ‘right’ if you want to become your idealised self, or find trying things out difficult and guilt-inducing.

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about why self-care can be a source of anxiety and pressure and share some tips to get into a healthier relationship with your self-care exploration. Note: I’m going on my summer break, so the next episode will come out on September 10th.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • If our idea of self-care reflects our idealised self and we’re being self-critical, we have unrealistic expectations. We’ll put unnecessary pressure on our self-work and suck the joy and curiosity out of things.
  • Learning about self-care off of the back of a difficult and painful period can make us fearful of not ‘keeping up’ in case we experience anxiety or low feelings again. As a result, our routine might feel like it was our salvation. There can be fear of not meticulously following it in case it has a domino effect. In turn, this creates further anxiety and confusion.
  • We’re socialised to deprioritise our needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions, so of course the idea of self-care feels scary and foreign. But some people also don’t want us to practice self-care because then they wouldn’t be able to exploit us. There’s also scepticism not just because of our upbringing but how self-care is portrayed in the media. Next thing, we’re wondering how taking a bath could be ‘self-care’? But it’s not so much the bath but the willingness to give over space and time to the care and keeping of yourself. Also, self-care isn’t just about baths, massages, yoga and candles!
  • Trying out a self-care practice or just taking care of yourself might feel weird and prompt self-critical thoughts. This doesn’t mean that self-care is wrong or that you shouldn’t bother with the thing. It means that self-care is unfamiliar.
  • You’re not behind, and part of self-care is having more patience, tolerance and self-compassion. Start small, build up from there, tweak and refine as you go. If you have lots of ideas about things you want to do, keep a running list. You can then see if you’re still into something or pick an item when you’re ready for a change.

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Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.

The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon/HarperCollins) is out now and available in bookshops on and offline. Listen to the first chapter.
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