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Why are you not looking after yourself?


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If you ask most people, why they don’t take time out for themselves they will tell you its because they don’t have time. They are too busy to work out, take care of themselves, or even to eat healthy foods.

If this sounds like you, have you ever thought about what is really stopping you?

Most often, what it comes down to is GUILT.

Today we often feel guilty about taking time out for ourselves. Although it can affect both sexes, I see this more with female clients. They tell me that they don’t have time to exercise, eat well, get more sleep, relax or generally look after themselves and that they are always stressed. When we dig a little deeper it usually turns out to be about guilt, and excessive care taking of everyone apart from themselves.

So how can we change this?

Maybe its time to start re-framing the way we think.

Imagine this scenario.

You are a parent with a couple of school aged kids, and a partner who works, and is out of the house from 7am -7pm, 5 days per week.

You start your day at 6am where you get up to get your familys’ breakfast. Your partner leaves for work at 6.30am and by 9am you have dropped the kids off. You are now ready to start your long to do list. You need to take the dogs out for their walk, otherwise you feel bad they haven’t been out. You need to pop to the supermarket to restock the fridge so your family are fed when they arrive home. You need to drop off your dry cleaning, pick up new school uniforms, and meet a friend for coffee because they need to talk. In the afternoon you have a stack of ironing to do before the kids come home. Once you collect them they have football training, or other extra curricular activities, then it’s dinner time.

After dinner it’s about clearing up, making sure everyone is ready for the next day, washed and ready for bed. At some point your partner has come in, and you are in the thick of it. You try and stop so you can heat up their dinner (or not!).  Finally, you collapse on the sofa at around 8.30pm to spend some “quality time” with each other. But you are shattered – and once you’ve had your glass of wine or two, really you are ready for bed. Suddenly, it’s 6am and you do it all over again.

So what would happen if you got sick? What would happen, if as a result of you not looking after yourself you had a physical or emotional breakdown. Who would look after the family? Who would cook, clean, taxi, run errands and pick up dry cleaning?

The bottom line is that you are an indispensable resource in your familys’ life, one they couldn’t do without,  wouldn’t it make sense to look after yourself? Not just physically but mentally too?

As I mentioned I see this mostly in female clients. They run around in a frenzy and mostly feel stressed. Men on the other hand are more quietly stressed and often carry around a quiet resentment, with anger bubbling underneath.

So how can self care help? Taking just 30 minutes out of your day for some sort of physical activity, or relaxation, will release some of those pent up emotions. It will give you a sense of achievement, self worth, and release some of the stress. It’s good for you physically & mentally.

We have no qualms about looking after inanimate objects – like our cars for example. We drive them every day, mile after mile. We fill them up with the right fuel, we service them & give them regular maintenance. Otherwise it’s all over and they breakdown.

Your body and your mind are just the same. You need the right things (with healthy food exercise being basics) to keep you ticking over. Unless you learn to set your guilt aside and stop the constant people pleasing, then you won’t be here to look after anyone else. Because eventually something will give – if it’s not your body then it will be your mind.

If you really care about others in your life, then it’s time to start caring about yourself. Try not to think of it as something that will take you away from the tasks that you feel you ” must do”, but rather as something necessary to keep you going.

Why are you not looking after yourself?

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Wayne is a Nutrition coach & Personal Trainer specialising in the over 40's age group. Wayne also runs The Next 40-Mantor Project, an all male group helping men to alleviate stress and take control of their masculinity.


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