Stop Neglecting Yourself: You Are Worth It!
What is self-neglect
Self-neglect is when you don’t take the time and effort to give your body and mind what it needs to flourish! If you were neglected as a child, then you were taught that you weren’t important enough to be taken care of or that other people are more important than you. Trauma too can often teach us this. This sets you up to neglect yourself as an adult. But you can make the changes now to take better care of yourself.
What is Included in Self-Care?
Everything that you need to do to care for yourself is part of self-care. This covers a lot of different things and areas. Consider some of the following:
Are you feeding yourself nourishing food and drinking enough water? Do you get regular exercise? Are you seeing your doctor regularly and taking medications as prescribed? Are you getting enough sleep on a daily basis? All of these things help you to keep your body healthy and are important to maintaining your health. Do you allow yourself time to rest? When was the last time you went on a vacation?
Do you nurture your friendships and your family relationships? Do you talk face to face with those who are important to you on a regular basis? Do you tell those you love how you feel about them?
Do you take care of your spiritual needs? This can include attending religious services or your preferred denomination, or anything which brings meaning to your life. Have you been living your life according to your values or someone else’s? Does your chosen work give you meaning or is it just a paycheck? Do you need to seek forgiveness from yourself or someone else for something in your past? Or maybe you need to give forgiveness.
Do you ask for what you need? Speak up for yourself and your needs? Do you allow yourself to experience all your emotions, or are some off-limits? Are you honest about your feelings, or do you engage in some sort of activity to numb them? Excessive playing of computer games, shopping, or overeating are all good examples of numbing activities.
Do you regularly engage in negative self-talk and put yourself down or do you talk in an encouraging voice to yourself? Do you notice when you accomplish things? Even the small things? Do you regularly engage in activities that feed your soul? Do you allow yourself to be your true unique self?
If that seems like a lot to you, that’s because it is! But don’t let it overwhelm you- you don’t need to fix everything at once. No one expects you to be perfect, least of all me, and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself either. Just take it slow and work through it one step or goal at a time and you’ll get there! Be kind to yourself.
Improving Your Self-Care
So let's get started, and to do that, we’re going to go through a few steps:
1. Look through the list above and identify what areas you’re neglecting yourself- write it down and make a list.
2. Choose 1 item to start with. This will keep your anxiety and feeling of being overwhelmed minimized.
3. Set a goal for that 1 thing- write it down.
4. Write down some smaller, mini-goals or steps to reaching that goal you wrote down in step #3.
5. Make a plan of action.
6. Track your progress towards your goal
Let's go through an example. You have decided that you are neglecting yourself by not eating good, nutritious food and so you’ve written that down and set the goal of eating healthy food daily. For steps or mini-goals, you might choose 1) eating fish 2x/week, 2) eating a piece of fruit every day, 3) eating a serving of vegetables 3x/week, and 4) taking a multi-vitamin every day. If this is a very difficult goal for you, you might want to work on only 1 or 2 steps at a time, so let's say you choose to eat fish 2x/week to start with, you would then track your progress so this week you ate 1 fish meals, last week you ate 0, and next week you’ll write down again how many meals you eat fish.
So that is all there is to it! Get out there and start working on taking better care of your needs and stop neglecting yourself! And if you need help doing this, please contact me for trauma therapy information.
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows
your light to shine brightly."