4 Signs You Need To Schedule a Self-Care Day and How

We often think of self-care as taking a bubble bath, putting on fun skincare products, or eating a delicious smoothie bowl – and while these all count in some respects, it’s important to recognize the beautiful and messy process of genuine self-care. 

Self-care means being mindful of your physical and emotional needs so you can take better care of yourself and the ones you love. However, sometimes we forget to give ourselves a little extra love; and we, unfortunately, continue to put our needs aside. We can get so used to feeling our emotions aren’t of significance that we begin slowly deteriorating. It’s important to acknowledge that our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being are all interconnected; when you neglect one, the rest will follow, and this can negatively affect you in a variety of ways. I’m here to help you recognize some of the signs that indicate you might be in need of a self-care day, as the first step in having a successful one is realizing where and how we began avoiding our needs. 


Warning Sign #1: Burnout Territory

We’ve all forgotten the due date of an assignment, where we placed our keys, or even what day it is. But when these mental slips begin occurring more frequently, it’s important to start taking note. Author of High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout, Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. explains “Lacks of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if we know what to look for, we can recognize burnout before it’s too late.” When we begin losing track of important deadlines, events, and experience an overall failure to focus on tasks, it’s a major sign you are on the road to serious burnout. 


Warning Sign #2: Physical Symptoms of Stress

There are many symptoms that indicate excessive stress, such as headaches, an upset stomach, shortness of breath, or fainting spells. However, the way these symptoms manifest is uniquely connected to the person who experiences them. It’s important not to ignore these signs and to listen to your body when it is telling you something is wrong. These symptoms can be both exhausting to experience and to treat – so you owe it to yourself to prevent this kind of burnout as well as treating it with regular self-care.


Warning Sign #3: Increased Negative Thinking 

A little self-doubt, overthinking, or sadness is normal in life; in fact, it’s healthy to have a balance of these emotions. However, the problem begins when these negative emotions begin consuming your thoughts and outweighing the positive ones. Without self-care, our lives begin to slowly fall apart. We begin losing interest in the things we once loved, isolating ourselves from the people we care about and feeling like a stranger in our own bodies. “Pessimism, isolation, and detachment can be signs of burnout,” says Dr. Carter. If you’re noticing this kind of overwhelmingly negative thinking, it’s time to address it and become mindful of your physical and emotional needs. 


Warning Sign #4: No Me-Time on Your To-Do List

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our work, school, or priorities that we forget to have a little fun. Even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes, that time is essential to you living the good and healthy life you deserve. If you really can’t remember the last time you had real fun, it’s a sign that you’ve been lacking some “me-time” on your schedule. It’s important to remind yourself that you deserve to enjoy yourself and to not push yourself past your limit.  Having a few moments to look into your life and really recognize where change needs to happen is the best way to prevent this kind of overwhelming feeling and alleviate the pain or stress that comes alongside it.


Photo by Danielle Daly

Self-care is a reminder that we’re not superheroes. We have our limits, we have our needs and wants, and we have to listen to what those limits, needs, and wants are. Once you’ve done that, decide what self-care looks like for you. Everyone’s version is different, and that’s the beauty of it. It can take a while to understand what works best for you, and it’s okay to not know right away. It could be something as simple as declining an invitation because you feel emotionally tired, or it could be doing regular morning yoga. Maybe it’s going to bookstores, eating at your favorite restaurants, or watching movies with friends. Either way, “we want to make sure whatever we are doing doesn’t have any negative consequences,” says Dr. Carter. For instance, compulsive activities cause you to perform certain behaviors or engage in certain activities that lead to your own downfall. “If you are engaging in an addictive behavior of any sort, that’s going to cause more problems than the issue you are trying to solve,” explains Carter. “Make sure whatever you choose is actually healthy and productive for you.”


The important part is not only what you do but how consistent you are with what you do. 


So, create your list of favorite self-care activities and look back on it whenever you feel an overwhelming amount of stress or tension. Whatever you do, remember to take care of yourself; it is never selfish to prioritize your emotional needs.