Obstacles to looking after our wellbeing

by | 17 Aug 2023 | Mental Health, Wellbeing

Time and the need to consider others before ourself are frequently cited obstacles to self-care.  In the blog we explore some of the assumptions linked to these barriers to our wellbeing.


Barriers to self-care and wellbeing 

When I run my regular Self-care Power Hour sessions we start by considering the barriers to self-care and looking after our wellbeing.  We need to overcome these barriers to make changes.

The responses invariably include time and the need to put others first.  However, when we dig a bit deeper it uncovers some assumptions and internal barriers alongside practical challenges. 

The barrier of not enough time

The assumption is that looking after ourself is time consuming. Yet, often the things we can do that benefit our wellbeing are about changing unhelpful habits or stopping doing things that are detrimental to our overall health.  This does not take more time.  It can save time.

Or we may consider we don’t have ‘enough’ time.  Perhaps we plan to go for a walk but don’t have as long as we had hoped.  Even getting out for a few minutes will be beneficial, and crucially starts to build the habit of going out. 

There is also the feeling that should be using our limited time in other ways, often related to our endless ‘to-do’ list.  Yet we will never have ‘enough’ time, we never ‘have’ time – we need to make decisions on how we wish to invest the time we have available.  If we wait until we have ‘caught up’ or ‘got on top’ of things, it will never happen.  We need to consciously choose to spend our time investing in our wellbeing.

The barrier of putting others first

At one level the practical responsibilities of looking after others, or the desire to look after those we care about, is real.  Some people have many demands on them, and I am not minimising the impact of this.  What I am inviting you to question is the internal narrative that might be telling you that you need to always be available, that it is selfish to put ourself first, and to consider whether you have the balance in the best place.  

Other barriers to self-care

There is often a belief that self-care is extravagant and expensive.  It doesn’t need to be – stopping for a couple of minutes to do a short breathing exercise lowers our stress levels, takes minimal time and no cost.

Sometimes people don’t know what to do to look after themselves better. The guidance changes, we have different interests, abilities and fitness and the information can be overwhelming. 

What happens when we don’t look after our wellbeing?

Common experiences are our physical and mental health suffers, we feel tired and lack energy, we can’t be the person we wish to be for those we care about, we have less patience, we don’t perform as well at work, we may have difficulty sleeping.  The list could go on.  We will pay a price for not taking care of ourself.

How do you feel when we have invested in our wellbeing?

This list is effectively the opposite to the last list!

We are likely to feel less stress, have more energy, patience, collaborate more, be better able to cope with challenges, as well as being nicer to have around because we feel better.

Crucially you are also likely to feel happier.

Changing your approach to self-care and your wellbeing

  • Review your assumptions and beliefs: 
    •  Self-care does not have to be time consuming, extravagant, or expensive.
    • Create a list of simple ideas that you can draw on when you need some self-care.
  • Remember a time when you have done something for your self and how you felt afterwards.
    • Reflect on how this affected your approach to all the things you had to do.
    • Consider whether you were more productive / effective / kinder / more patient overall as an outcome of looking after yourself.
  • Identify one small positive change you could make that would be an investment in your wellbeing.
    • Make it something realistic and practical for your life e.g. a short walk each lunch time, or putting logging off work at a specific time.
  • Identify something that you currently do for your wellbeing e.g. taking a break each day.
    • Have a plan to ensure your continue this action e.g. block it out in your diary and don’t override it.
  • Identify one thing you currently do that is detrimental to your wellbeing e.g. scrolling emails late in the evening.
    • Decide an action to take to stop the unhelpful behaviour.

For more ideas on developing your own wellbeing plan join my next free Self-Care Power Hour on Tuesday 5 September.  Feel free to attend again if your plan would benefit from refreshing and please share the invitation with those around you. Book your place here.



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