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Removing Obstacles to Self Care is Self Care

When committing to self-care is too challenging, preparing for self-care is sometimes the best decision we can make to take care of ourselves.

A coffee mug, laptop, journal, pen, and reading glasses sit on a table

Whether you want to chalk it up to mental health struggles, depression, anxiety, or the symptoms of trauma, it's extremely common to struggle with self-care.

While some of us might struggle with basic hygiene, other workaholics might struggle to break, and others still might struggle with striking a balance between caring for others and taking care of their own "stuff," we all ultimately need the same thing: self-care.

Setting aside the time for self-care, finding the motivation to engage in self-care, and even understanding what self-care really is all serve as barriers to us prioritizing ourselves and taking responsibility for our own wellbeing.

Well, there's good news. There's nothing wrong with you if you struggle to care for yourself. And, you don't have to do it all at once.

This work, personal development, happens in tiny steps over a long period of time. And, if you're having trouble getting your self-care routine off the ground, this advice could change your life.

One person speaks to another, who appears to be in distress

The relationship between trauma and self-care

Trauma keeps us stuck. Sometimes, when we're triggered, we can become paralyzed. In our frozen state, we might think about what we want or need to do. We might even obsess over it.

But instead of doing the things we know will help us, we procrastinate, frozen in trauma brain. Or, we might fall into other common trauma responses, like defensiveness or overworking.

If this ever happens to you, know that it is entirely possible to escape your fight or flight mode and step back into your true self. It's a practice that takes time to get really good at, and honing this practice is one of the best things that you can do for your life.

Overcome procrastination and overwhelm with achievable goals

This tip might seem deceptively simple. But, it works, especially if you're someone who struggles with feeling overwhelmed.

Instead of thinking about the big task you need to do, shift your mindset by thinking about what you can do to prepare for that task. Set a goal that is so achievable, it feels a bit ridiculous to need to set the goal in the first place.

By only committing to preparing for the task at hand, the new task (preparing) feels much easier, faster, and more manageable. Once it's done, we've removed obstacles to our self-care (which is a form of self-care).

By breaking down self-care in this way, it can be more manageable to step out of trauma brain and back into executive functioning.

For example, if you're trying to start a ritual of journaling in the evenings, start with the following goals, which do not need to be done all at once or even on the same day:

  • Choose the journal you'll write in

  • Place the journal in the place you'll sit down to write

  • Choose a writing utensil and place it with your journal

  • Think about what day of the week would be the most convenient to journal on

  • Write in your journal for at least two minutes (set a timer)

What task have you been procrastinating? If you broke it down, what would that look like?

A person on a yoga mat stretches while watching a video on a laptop

Final Thoughts: Continue your mindfulness journey

This practice of breaking down our tasks into manageable steps, setting achievable goals, and preparing for self-care is a trauma-informed approach that will serve you. Remember, this work won't be done in a day. It takes time, and it's okay to move slowly, slowly.

For more self-care resources, be sure to visit our shop for free and affordable trauma-informed resources, like the self-care planning kit.

A version of this article was originally published in Chefalo Consulting's December 2022 Trauma-Informed Newsletter.


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