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HOW TO DO SELF-CARE WHEN YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO

April 7, 2020

you are not your anxiety by dr. carly crewe

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I'm Carly - an MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health. I help women feel like themselves again.

Meet Carly

the sled by carly crewe, md

I’m ALL ABOUT daily, intentional self-care (read: this is CRITICAL to your mompreneur success). In today’s post, I’m going to give you 6 great strategies and hacks to do your self-care when you really don’t want to.

Prefer to listen rather than read? Check out Episode #6 of the Mind Over Motherhood Podcast by clicking here!

Like you, I know how important self-care time is as both a mom and an online entrepreneur.

But I also know how HARD IT IS some days to find the motivation to do it when you have a million other things to do. It’s MUCH easier to just clean the house or focus on the biz, ya?

If you’re anything like me, you have all these big ideas about committing to your self-care every day. You KNOW how important it is. You know how good you feel when you do it.

But, inevitably, the day comes when you just don’t. want. to.

SO HOW DO YOU FIND THE MOTIVATION TO DO IT?

DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?

You create this great plan to commit to your self-care every day. Maybe you read my series on morning routines for moms and are PUMPED.

So you get started. GREAT! An excited energy carries you through the first few days or even the first few weeks of this shiny new habit. You gain a bit of momentum and begin to feel some of the benefits of your new routine.

Things are going great and then…inevitably, the discipline and motivation you had begins to wane and you ultimately give up the habit. HUMPH.

OR maybe you don’t even get started because you plan it all, but when the time comes – NO GO. The motivation is GONE.

You don’t even get started. You feel like a failure. This then reinforces your own belief that you “have no commitment,” “never follow through,” or “always give up.” It’s BRUTAL.

First of all, if this happens to you, it is normal and universal. These are just a few statements I hear DAILY in my job (s):

“Me? I have no discipline.”
“I am great at starting but not good at following through.”


These thoughts are easily the biggest obstacle in creating and maintaining a self-care routine.

If this is something you struggle with and are interested in finding out some of my favourite hacks to get motivated, READ ON BELOW SISTER.

1. Get clear on your WHY.

The very first hack I have for you is to figure out WHY the heck you want to do this in the first place.

There is a reason you wanted to start this habit.  It is critical that you become crystal clear on why that is. It can be anything, but the bigger and more important the why, the stronger motivator it will be

Take a few moments to sit down and really hammer out your why.
Write it down in your journal or somewhere you will see it often. 

For example, I have a daily exercise habit because I want to live healthy long into my old age. I want to see my children grow up and do amazing things. This is exactly what I try to remind myself when I’m struggling to get out of bed in the morning to do yoga, or begrudgingly avoiding my treadmill.

It is OK if your why is simple – “I want to do daily self-care because it makes me feel better.”

It’s also OK if your why is detailed- “I want to do daily self-care to remind myself of my worth, become a more present parent and contribute in greater ways to my community.”

The key is to find the WHY that has meaning for you. This is your hack. Find the WHY that is SO big and SO meaningful and SO important that your inner resistance and sabotaging brain cannot stand up to it


2. Strategically place motivation in your hiding places. 


Where do you go when you’re in “avoidance mode”? What do you all of a sudden feel you have to do when you’re avoiding your habit?

Maybe you clean the kitchen or bake (*sheepishly raises hand*).

Perhaps you scroll on Instagram or Facebook.

Or you hide in your computer and convince yourself your work is more important than self-care. (Guilty!)

The key is to place motivational reminders in these strategic places.

Follow some motivational content on social media
so that when you sit down to put off exercising and scroll, you will be strategically reminded of your goal.

Join inspirational groups on Facebook about your habit or that encourage regular self-care so that seeing them in your Newsfeed will remind you of your habit and encourage you to stick to it. 

Stick post-it notes with your WHY all over your hiding places– your kitchen, your pantry, your computer screen, your bedroom, etc. Put a note “Do your self-care!” on your vacuum cleaner if you have to.

That way, when you seek out your usual hiding places to avoid actually doing your self-care, you’ll be bombarded with reminders and external motivation, which is just what you need when you don’t feel like doing self-care.

3. Make yourself accountable!


Many clients tell me the one reason they hire me as a coach is that they cannot hold themselves accountable. Accountability is so important. 

Gretchen Rubin explores how human beings respond to internal and external expectations in her theory of The Four Tendencies, where she essentially (and quite accurately, in my opinion) divides the human population into four categories. These categories describe how you respond to expectations, either expectations you put on yourself (maintaining a habit that no one knows about but you) or that others place on you (job or family expectations, for example). 

The majority of people I work with seem to fall into the category of Obligers in Gretchen’s framework. This tendency struggles with upholding internal expectations, that is, following through on demands or expectations they have for themselves. They have no difficulty fulfilling expectations when someone else is involved or asking something of them. For example, an individual may have no problem keeping a regular exercise routine when meeting a work out partner at the gym, but fail miserably when they need to go on their own. 

The point of this is that in order to be successful in a self-care routine or habit, most of us have to create accountability.

If you’re someone who has no trouble holding yourself accountable to your own expectations, it’s likely you don’t often struggle with maintaining self-care habits. If you’re like the majority of the population who need external accountability to stick to your goals, you need to create or creatively find that accountability. 

Get a work out buddy. Ask a friend if you can report on your self-care routine daily or weekly. Make a pledge with your sister. Bet your friend money. Post to your followers on Twitter. Call your mom. Hire a coach. Whatever it takes.

Find accountability and you will find more success. I cannot emphasize how important this step is. If you’re interested in finding out your tendency and learning more about how to become more successful in the area of habit development, I strongly encourage Gretchen’s podcast or book, The Four Tendencies.

4. Make your self-care enjoyable and rewarding. 


The Motivational Triad of human behaviour tells us that at our basic level, human beings behave in ways that seek pleasure, avoid pain and increase efficiency. It may be a bit simplistic, but it’s true and can explain a lot of aspects of our innate behaviours. 

So how does this help in the pursuit of motivation and sticking to our self-care routine? 

We are more likely to be successful in sticking to a routine if that routine is pleasurable and enjoyable. 

I promise you that if you hate the activities you are doing for your self-care routine, not only is this the antithesis of self-care (more like self-abuse), but you will not stick to the habit. Your mind will avoid pain and create all sorts of roadblocks to you continuing on your path. 

So be sure to build your self-care routine with activities that you truly enjoy. This will simply make it easier to find the motivation to do them, even when you don’t feel like it. 

Also, there is no shame in rewarding yourself for good behaviour. Rewards are very powerful. Consider creating a reward for yourself at the end of a stretch of consistent self-care. Perhaps a luxurious bubble bath after one week of consistency or buying yourself flowers after 2 weeks. The key is to ensure the reward is meaningful for you and doesn’t bring feelings of guilt or shame (ie. shopping sprees are not great ideas for rewards ;)).

5. Stop making “giving up” mean something about you as a person.


Let me remind you that your mind loves making meaning out of everything. Your mind is quite literally a meaning-making machine.
In this case, your mind is very skilled at making the fact that you seem to lack motivation in a particular moment or that you have failed to stick to a habit in the past mean something about you as a person or your ability to stick to a plan.

If you have struggled or failed to stick to a new habit or routine even once in the past, your mind takes that isolated circumstance and attaches meaning to it: you will always fail to stick to a habit and have no discipline. When reinforced, this becomes a deep-seated belief about your ability to stick to a new habit.

To make it even worse, we then make ourselves feel terrible about it by saying things about ourselves like “I have no discipline” or “I’ve never been able to keep up a routine”, or “I always quit.” What we tell ourselves becomes our reality. 

However, the real reality is: this is what our brains are hardwired to do. They are hard-wired to create meaning and beliefs around our lives. It does not mean that these beliefs are true.

In fact, you can probably prove the belief invalid right here and now:
Can you think of a time that there was something you had to do and even though you really didn’t want to do it, you dug deep and found the motivation to do it anyway? See. You can. 

I really love the example from Brooke Castillo of going to the grocery store to get groceries:

Imagine you’re en route to the grocery store to get groceries. Along the way, you hit red lights. Although you hit red lights, this does not deter you from your goal of getting groceries. You do not allow hitting red lights to mean anything about you or the situation you’re in.

I doubt you would think “Oh, I’ve hit a red light, this must mean I’m never going to get groceries,” or “This must mean I have no ability to get groceries.

No, you would simply see the red light as a brief interruption or obstacle that once you overcome, you will be able to proceed onto your goal (of getting groceries). 

In the case of habit formation or a self-care routine, getting groceries is equivalent to being successful in your goal/routine/plan

When you hit red lights (feel unmotivated, take a break from your habit, skip a day), this does not mean that you are not supposed to get groceries or that you have no ability to get groceries (meet your goal).  Simply carry on when the light turns green. Keep going until you get to the grocery store and get your groceries.

Keep working at your self-care routine regardless of obstacles. Try to avoid making the obstacles mean something about your ability to meet this goal.

So consider, if quitting didn’t mean anything, would it matter that you quit? If you didn’t make your difficulty in keeping to your routine mean something about you as a person, would it matter as much? Or would you be able to just pick up where you left off and continue?

6. Expect your brain to freak out. 


Our brains are designed to keep us safe and alive. What keeps us safe and alive is what has been familiar to our brains and is predictable. The brain likes doing what has kept us alive so far. 

When we start to stretch ourselves and challenge our brains into doing things in new ways, the brain panics. It is inevitable and exactly what it is wired to do. 

So when you start a new self-care routine, a self-improvement habit, or something new at all – you must expect your brain to freak out and anticipate the resistance it will cause within you. 

When the brain panics, it becomes very creative. Your brain may tell you that you’re too tired. There are so many other “important things” than your self-care. It tells you that you’re never going to keep to this habit so why even try? Your brain is hardwired for familiarity and comfort and will do its BEST at keeping you there.

However, most of us want to do more than just stay alive. We want to thrive. To do this, we often want to create new habits, ditch old habits and grow in challenging ways. We want to be more active, lose weight, create healthier relationships, parent more intentionally, etc. 

This is where it is important to practice something I call Expect and Accept:

Expect your brain to freak out and become very creative about deterring you from your goal. 

Accept that your brain is simply trying to keep you alive, even if it’s being a bit overkill. 

Thank your brain for its insights and protection, but carry on with what you know is right for you. 

When we can expect that we will inevitably NOT want to do what we set out to do, we can prepare ourselves for meeting that resistance and be more successful in overcoming it. 

7. Fake it until you make it. 


I need to ask you something brutally honest: 

How often does it happen that you set out a plan to do something and when the time comes, you actually want to do it?

We always feel that in order to do a task or activity, we have to feel like we want to do it in order to get started. This is flawed thinking. No doubt there have been times in your life that you were able to do something even though you didn’t want to. 

However, as I’ve explained above, our brains are hardwired to not want to do what we set out to do for self-improvement (or business, or work, etc.)

If we are always waiting to feel like doing self-care when it’s time to do self-care in order to do it, 75% of the time we won’t do it. 

So stop waiting to feel like it, and start doing things you don’t want to do.

In fact, the moment you don’t want to do something is the exact moment it is most important to push through and do it.

If you have to, fake that you want to until you actually want to. 

You can do it! I know you can. 

via GIPHY


LET’S GET INTO ACTION

Make your WHY bigger than your resistance. It should be huge and crystal clear. Your why should have the power to overcome your mind’s resistance.

Hack your motivation by sticking inspiration in your best hiding places. 

Get some accountability. Create it. Hire it. Do what you have to do but find accountability. 

Make your self-care enjoyable for crying out loud. Give yourself a present or reward for a job well done. 

You will NOT want to do your habit when it comes time to do it. You have to expect and accept this. 

Stop making your past failures mean anything about you. Just stop.

You actually do NOT HAVE to FEEL like doing something in order to do it. In fact, you probably WON’T feel like doing something when it’s time to do it. This is the best time to push through. 

You can do things when you don’t feel like it, you just have to overcome your mind’s resistance. 

Don’t wait until you feel like it because you’ll be waiting forever. Fake it until you make it. 


You’ve got this!

-Carly

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