There is a message that is prevalent throughout the western world that it is selfish to take time for self-care.  Women particularly feel guilty taking the time necessary to care for and nurture themselves and because of this they often they put themselves last. The result is an increase in stress…and ultimately chronic illness.

As a wellness practitioner, once they come to work with you, they are already seeing the results of chronic stress. They are experiencing symptoms and they are looking to feel better again. But implementing a health restoring protocol requires that self-care be a priority. And the mindset that self-care is selfish will not serve them if they hope to heal. As a wellness professional, you will need to help them to begin changing the mindset that self-care isn’t selfish and that putting their health needs first is not only okay, but mandatory for success!

For women, part of their nature is to nurture. Most are naturally drawn to helping and taking care of the needs of others. And for many, learning to help themselves first may not come quite as easily. But there are things that you can help them to understand that can help them change their mindset…and make their own self-care a top priority!

Here are a few things that you can share with your clients…or yourself, if you struggle with self-care!

Changing priorities

Like so many others, you may feel pressure to commit to regular self-care because of obligations from family and job that may be higher priorities for you. Because of this you may find that you run out of time to do what you need to take care of yourself after fulfilling those obligations. But putting yourself at the top of the priority list will actually help you to get more done! It may not seem natural to put yourself first, but schedule in time before anything else to take care of yourself! When you are feeling better, you will have more energy to get more accomplished!

A car that isn’t maintained will stop running

If you want to continue helping others you must help yourself first. Think about a car. You must go and fill it with fuel, get oil changes and get maintenance done on it regularly. If you don’t, it will run for a while, but eventually it’s going to stop running and leave you stuck on the side of the road. The body is not much different!  We need to be fueled with good food, we need adequate sleep, we need to move our bodies and we need to manage stress. Symptoms are like the warning lights on a car. They are there to tell us that something is malfunctioning and that we need to address what is going wrong. If you don’t do that, your body will stop functioning optimally and eventually you will get so sick that you won’t be able to help anyone…including yourself.

Recognizing your needs

Many women have stopped paying attention to their own needs because they are so busy tending to everyone and everything else. They ignore cues from the body to take care of basic daily needs. So it is important to recognize what you may be needing in a moment so that you can step up and do what is best for you and your body. Are you so busy that you forget to eat, or reach for unhealthy foods instead of grabbing a healthy meal? If so, you are not giving your body the fuel that it needs to thrive, and to heal. Do you regularly feel overwhelmed, but keep pushing through anyway? You may need to schedule a few hours or even an entire day when you don’t have to do anything except take care of you.  Checking in with yourself throughout the day and asking yourself “how am I feeling right now” and “what do I need right now” can be great ways to help you begin to recognize your needs. Doing this can reduce stress and help you to feel better!

Setting boundaries

It is important for you to make self-care a priority in your life. But you may have family members, friends, or others who regularly ask you for your time and who many not be understanding when you begin to take time away from them to take care of yourself. But it is okay to say no if they ask you to do things that will prevent you from taking care of you. And you can say no without feeling guilty about it too! You may need to work with children or a spouse or partner to set up new routines and new boundaries. You have the right to take care of yourself and it is up to you to teach those around you to respect and honor the time you need to do that. Just be gentle but firm as you work to set new boundaries in place.

Taking care of yourself and making yourself a priority may seem a bit uncomfortable at first. It will take some practice and a little time to get you used to putting yourself first. But until you do, you will struggle to get the health results that you want.  Making sure you are eating plenty of healthy foods that work to help support your body, getting plenty of good quality sleep, exercising regularly and managing stress will go a long way to helping you finally find some relief from the health symptoms that have been causing you problems.

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