Why is it so hard to look after ourselves?

A couple of weeks back I wrote on here about ideas for managing stress. My tips on coping are very simple and the benefits are well documented, so...why is it so hard to put into practice?

The simple answer is that it's hard to take care of someone you don't really like. That's why your partner, your kids, your friends, your extended family, your pets, your boss, your colleagues - hey, just about anyone - can all slide into priority spaces ahead of you. Ever noticed yourself putting your self care at the bottom of the to-do list? Like it's the thing that you'll do once you've taken care of everyone else? It's because you've got a sneaking suspicion they all deserve to be cared for more than you do.

It's a really common problem. Whether it's because you weren't shown love when you were a kid, or you blame yourself for difficulties in your life, or you just don't seem to measure up to the ideals you think you should, it can be very hard to love yourself.

That's right - LOVE yourself. It even feels a bit icky saying it if you deep down feel you aren't loveable.

But loving yourself is the very basis of feeling content and balanced, because it leads to good self care. You treat the people you love well, and that includes yourself.

So what can you do if you know you're not your own best friend? If making time to look after yourself is always on the backburner?

  • Start by putting yourself back at the top of the priorities list. Whether it's a 10 minute nap, half an hour with a coffee and a book or a 5k run you need, do it first. See how it feels!
  • Tell yourself how important you are. You don't have to do this out loud! But YOU are important, and the more you remind yourself, the more you'll believe it.
  • Look after yourself little and often. Ten minutes of self care every day is more beneficial than a monthly spa day (as lovely as that sounds too). Building up the habit of self care is key.
  • Ask yourself what you need to feel taken care of. It's different for everyone. Eating well, sleeping well, connecting with others and doing some fun exercise are common needs, but you'll likely have personal ones too.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. With practice, it'll get easier!
Photo by damedeeso/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by damedeeso/iStock / Getty Images