Women often connect self-care to productivity. Have you ever had a thought such as: “I can’t go to lunch because I haven’t finished that work project” or “I don’t have time for the gym today because the house is a mess?” Engaging in self-care activities only after reaching self-imposed productivity quotas causes us to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.
If feel like you have to complete everything on your to-do list in order to “earn” self-care time, read on for three, therapist-approved tips you can utilize to help prioritize self-care without the guilt.
1. Stop connecting your self-worth to your productivity.
We’ve been taught a dangerous lesson: we are not worthy or deserving of feeling good unless we’ve reached an external or internal productivity quota. This ideology is damaging to our mental health because it becomes a barrier to practicing self-care, defined as taking action to preserve or improve one's own health and happiness.
The truth is, time for self-care doesn’t need to be earned, it is a human right. You deserve to participate in self-care activities on a regular basis simply because you are a human being and as such require rest, relaxation, and time to reset in order to function optimally.
Adopting this perspective and doing the work to change your behaviors and thought process takes practice. A paradigm shift such as this is difficult and requires intentionality because the hustle culture we all live in has conditioned us to connect our self-worth to how much we accomplish. This conditioning happens daily, each time we are praised or rewarded for working overtime, taking on more responsibility, and reaching performance goals.
2. Reframe rest and self-care as productive activities.
Self-care, especially rest, shouldn’t be regarded as the antithesis of productivity. In fact, self-care is the intentional action taken to produce the capacity to meet other obligations at a later time.
Our productivity shouldn’t be glorified in such a way that our self-worth and identity are tied to it, yet it is important to also acknowledge that we all have responsibilities. Achieving some level of consistent productivity is required to reach our goals and live according to our values, and self-care can be an integral part of that.
In other words, self-care should be regarded as one of the most productive activities in which one can engage, because without it the energy, attention, focus, and dedication needed to meet other responsibilities will be absent.
3. Remember that we are allowed to show love to ourselves.
As women, we are conditioned and celebrated for our service to others. We are not often taught how to be attuned to our own needs or to prioritize showing love to ourselves by meeting those needs. Every time we see other women being labeled as selfish, or as bad mothers and inattentive partners for carving out time for ourselves, it reinforces damaging self-talk and motivates us to lean into work, service, and sacrifice at the cost of our mental health and happiness.
Whenever we encounter social media posts, people, or industries that motivate us to neglect ourselves, it is important to recognize that entities who encourage us to neglect personal boundaries do so because they directly benefit our mental, emotional, and physical labors. We are all solely responsible for our own well-being and have the power to choose not to engage in things that are not mutually beneficial.
Next time you feel selfish or guilty for prioritizing your own needs, remember that you are actually doing what is best for yourself, as well as others, by making sure you have had enough sleep, nutritious food, time to move your body, and connection with hobbies bring us joy because these are the actions that are required for us to maintain our mental health and to be our best selves.
Struggling to Practice Consistent Self-Care?
Meeting with a licensed therapist for self-care and self-esteem counseling can help to identify blocks and find solutions to creating a sustainable self-care plan. If you’re struggling to implement the tips in this article, reach out to Her Time Therapy to schedule a free consultation with a therapist that can help you make positive changes and learn to prioritize yourself.
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Her Time Therapy, LLC is an integrative group counseling practice based in Denver, Colorado comprised of highly trained mental health therapists who specialize in providing convenient and empowering online mental health counseling for women. If you are not sure how to apply the advice shared here in your own life or are struggling with a different issue, contact us and schedule a free consultation call with a licensed therapist.
About the Author
Meagan Clark, MA LPC NCC BC-TMH is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Founder and Clinical Director of Her Time Therapy, LLC, a group therapy practice specializing in teletherapy for women. She received her Master of Arts degree in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adams State University and is a Board Certified Telemental Health Provider and Nationally Certified Counselor. As a women's therapist, Meagan specializes in working with female-identifying teens and adults who suffer from trauma, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and grief. She is also a Certified Holistic Cancer coach and is passionate about supporting cancer patients and caregivers. Meagan believes strongly in the empowering nature of integrative and feminist therapy to give women the knowledge and tools they need to navigate gender-based oppression, increase resiliency, and empower themselves to create a life they love.
*Disclosure: This post is not a substitute for therapy and does not constitute entering into a professional therapeutic relationship with the author or another therapist at Her Time Therapy, LLC. This post may contain ads and affiliate links that Her Time Therapy, LLC earns a small commission from when you make a purchase by clicking links on our site at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products we've used ourselves and would feel comfortable recommending to clients to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.