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Breaking Free from Self-Care Guilt: Prioritizing Your Well-Being

What do you think when you hear the term self-care? Do you feel guilty when you think about engaging in self-care?  You’re not alone.

Most women feel guilty about putting themselves first.  As women, we have been socialized to be the nurturers, caregivers, often taking care of everyone else first.  We justify putting ourselves last by virtue of being a good loving mom, wife or caregiver.

Let me tell you what’s really at the root of the guilt you feel when you think about putting yourself first.

You don’t feel that you’re worth it.

Many of us don’t feel that we deserve to spend time on ourselves or doing the things that we enjoy doing.  We feel like we’re taking something away from the ones we love if we prioritize our needs first. 

How often do you do something that you enjoy?  I’m not talking about hanging out with your girlfriends every blue moon.  I mean actively scheduling out time each day or each week to solely focus on you.  Doing something where you are not thinking about the laundry, cleaning up, or if little Johnny has had a nap or not.

When you don’t feel like you’re worthy or deserving of something, even though you know it would benefit you, you won’t engage.

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty

Self-care creates healthy boundaries in your life.  People who engage in regular self-care typically have or develop higher self-worth and confidence.  When you are clear on your own needs and not afraid to advocate for yourself, you are able to prioritize yourself and set boundaries.  This shows others that you respect yourself and they in turn will begin to respect you and your boundaries as well.

Self-care helps you regulate negative emotions – irritability, snapping at others, feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  Self-care helps you manage these feelings, so you are better able to deal with what life throws your way.  Self-care is a way to refocus and re-energize.

How to get over the guilt
Ask yourself why are you feeling guilty? Do you think it’s a waste of time, overindulgent?  Do you feel like you’re taking away from your family if you do it? Don’t know what to do for self-care?

Assess what you need.  Do you need a break from your “to-do” list? Do you need a few minutes to just clear your mind?

Figure out what you enjoy doing.  What are you interested in?  What have you always wanted to do? Do you like to cook? Read? Helping others?

Create a simple, flexible routine/habit.  You don’t need to have a complicated routine.  You can start with either:

  • A morning routine to get you ready for the day. Deep breathing, reciting your favorite affirmation, enjoying a cup of coffee, saying a prayer, etc.; or
  •  An evening routine to help you unwind and decompress from the day. Read a book, enjoy a cup of tea, do a little meditation or yoga.

Establish a support system.  Get people who will genuinely support you to help you remain consistent and accountable to your self-care goals.

So remember, it’s okay to feel guilty, it’s a natural feeling.  Don’t let guilt keep you from taking care of yourself.  Ask yourself why you are feeling that way and give yourself permission to re-energize.

Self-care is a mindset and way of living. Not a chore to be ticked off your to-do list.  Self-care can help increase your sense of self-worth as you establish boundaries and prioritize yourself.  This is a journey, not a sprint.

You are no good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Take care!

1 comment
by Melanie on January 28, 2024

This is a great read.