Barriers to Self-Care [& How To Overcome Them]

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Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Saskia Friedrich

Are barriers to self-care stopping you from taking care of yourself? Self-care barriers are more common than you think and you’re not the only one facing them.

Many people (including myself) struggle to maintain self-care.

Why is that? What even is self-care? And more importantly: how can you overcome these self-care barriers once and for all?

Now is the time to change your mindset and let go of what’s stopping you from being kind to yourself.

What barriers to practicing self-care are you facing? Do you:

  • Care for others all day?
  • Work too much?
  • Find it hard to make time due to other commitments?
  • Feel exhausted at the end of the day?

Whatever the situation, there are many self-care barriers that are in your way.

It took me a while to let go of the barriers to maintaining my self-care strategies! And I’m happy to share with you today how you can learn to manage your self-care barriers too!

In this post, you’ll get to know about the most common barriers and how you can overcome them so you can finally practice some well-deserved self-care.

barriers to self-care

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Disclaimer: Some of the links here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

What Are The Barriers to Self-Care?

No motivation for self-care exercises? Are you wondering what could be the possible barriers in achieving your personal goals?

Related: How to set monthly goals (3 simple ways to success)

Let’s look at each of the personal barriers examples in more detail. Some of them go hand in hand with each other or build on top of one another.

It’s important to recognize the barriers to self-care first and once done, you can start to work on letting go of them and get back to having motivation for your self care.

Barriers to Self-Care

  • 1. No Time
  • 2. Putting Others First
  • 3. Guilt
  • 4. No Motivation
  • 5. Thinking You Don’t Need Self-Care
  • 6. Lack of Ideas

Overcoming Self Care Barriers

  • 1. Make Time For Yourself
  • 2. Live More Intentionally
  • 3. Know That You Are Worthy
  • 4. Understand The Importance of Self-Care

Related: Overcoming barriers to achieve goals

Barriers to Practicing Self-Care

What Is Self Care?

Self-care is taking active steps to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Self-care activities can include anything from:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Writing
  • Making art
  • Doing sport
  • Meeting a friend
  • Taking a bath or a shower

But as so often, there are barriers that stop us from living our best lives.

Common Barriers

Today, I’ll focus on the self-care barriers and how to overcome them! Let’s get to it.

Barriers To Self-Care [ & How To Overcome Them ]

1. No Time

This is probably the # 1 barrier to self-care! We’re so quick to say that we don’t have time yet we find time to do everything else in our lives.

Sure, most of the time we do things that are expected of us and which we feel we HAVE to do, but at the end of the day, we are still able to make time for them.

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

If you can find time for other things in your life, you need to also find time for self-care. Plan out your day using a daily planner, and see what really has to be done that day.

I’m sure you’ll realize that some things can be moved to the next day.

Become more selfish and start putting your and your self-care activities first!

barriers to self care
Find time for self-care with this daily planner

A lot of the times, we set our expectations too high and think we have to get it all done in one day. But things don’t run away and can wait. Self-care shouldn’t. You have to make it a priority.

If committing to self-care is hard for you, try out these 5-minute self-care activities first and see how you go.

There are always 5 minutes to spare here or there and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel after just a few minutes of giving yourself some love.

2. Putting Others First

This self-care barrier especially applies to people who care for their children, their elderly parents, or who work with people with special needs.

Barriers to self-care for nurses is a big topic too! How can you take care of yourself if you do double shifts, feel exhausted and guilty because your patients don’t have the opportunity to take care of themselves either?

Also, as parents of young children, we are constantly on the run taking care, and it isn’t easy to put ourselves first.

However, there are also a lot of people out there who take your time and effort for granted.

Friends and family keep on asking and expecting you to help and before you know it, you agreed to something that you didn’t have a second to think about.

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

I know you want to avoid conflict and please others, but you have to be careful with your resources. We all have a limit and can’t pour from an empty cup.

Instead of exhausting yourself, you need to regularly plan some self-care activities.

Setting boundaries is very important here, and it gets easier once you set them in place and stick to them. If you respect them, others will too.

Before you say yes to other people’s requests straight away (whether it’s in your private or professional life), let them know that you will get back to them. Then take a moment to think first and make sure this is something you really want to do.

Learn to say no more often!

barriers to self-care

3. Guilt

The next self barrier up is guilt.

If you say yes to self-care, you say no to something else at the same time. This could be:

  • Dinner with a friend
  • Helping your mum with something
  • Spending quality time with your family
  • Going to the movies with your partner

We are afraid that we will miss out on something that could be much better than spending time with ourselves.

And we feel guilty for letting our loved ones down and don’t want them to think we don’t want to spend time with them.

Guilt is a dark barrier that prevents us from taking care of ourselves and we think we’re not worthy of spending so much time (or money) on ourselves.

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

Show yourself the love that you constantly give your loved ones around you!

Self-care often is often seen as an expensive way of pampering yourself, but self-care doesn’t have to cost much and it doesn’t have to be fancy (check out these 5-minute self-care activities and some self-care night ideas which most of them you can do at home).

Overcoming barriers to self acceptance

barriers to maintaining self care
Self-Care Reflection Journal

Get some self care motivation!

barriers to maintaining self care
Gua Sha & Face Roller

4. No Motivation

I get it! You’re tired, exhausted, and just want to fall into bed at the end of your day.

That used to be me – ALL THE TIME!

You have so much to do and constantly chase to tick another task off your to-do list.

How can you find energy for self-care and put your head into the mind space of doing something for yourself?

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

Sit back, take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture.

What do you enjoy doing?

What makes you feel good? Is there anything that makes you super happy?

Whatever it is and however small it seems, honor yourself 10 minutes and just do it. Once you’ve done it, you’ll feel so much better and you will get to find the motivation to do it again the next day.

Sometimes, you just have to throw yourself into something without thinking about it too much.

what is self care

Self Care Examples

no motivation for self care
Stress Less & Self Care Cards

5. Thinking You Don’t Need Self-Care

Another barrier to self-care is the opinion of not needing self-care. This could be due to putting others first or being so occupied with other tasks that you don’t really think about self-care.

You think you are ok. And you might be ok at the moment, but you won’t be ok in the long run.

One day you will break down, being totally exhausted and wondering how you got to this point.

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

You need to find a balance between taking care of others and taking care of yourself. You can’t keep going all day every day without taking breaks.

Don’t exhaust yourself by letting this barrier take the upper hand.

6. Lack of Ideas

Do you think that self-care has to be fancy and that none of this stuff fits into your budget and lifestyle? You can’t think of any activities that are right for you?

Barriers to Self-Care: How To Let Go

As previously mentioned, self-care is more than pampering yourself with a massage or spa once a month. Self-care should be a part of your daily life and routine.

You might be surprised what things fall under self-care when you look at the 8 areas of self-care. I hope these will give you some inspiration.

8 Areas of Self-Care

  • Physical Self-Care – doing a workout, going to the dentist, or having a nap
  • Emotional Self-Carejournaling, reading affirmations, or setting boundaries
  • Psychological Self-Care – learning a new skill, playing an instrument, or doing some writing/blogging
  • Social Self-Care – spending time with family & friends, offering and asking for help
  • Spiritual Self-Carepraying, practicing mindfulness, setting your values
  • Financial Self-Care – setting up a monthly budget plan, keeping your tax in order, or planning your future
  • Environmental Self-Care – keeping your place nice and clean, decluttering, or having your car serviced
  • Professional Self-Care – taking a course to upskill, being productive, or staying up to date wit the latest practices in your industry

More Self-Care Ideas:

I hope these self-care examples help you finally overcome your barriers to practicing self-care.

Why Do People Struggle With Self-Care?

We tend to struggle with self-care because we surround ourselves with other people’s problems, needs, and feelings.

Rather than focusing on others, you need to acknowledge your own feelings and needs, and take action on what’s important to you.

You need to understand that you are worthy of self-care, no matter what people have told you in the past.

As much as you want to help and please others, you also need to look after yourself. If you don’t do it, no one else will.

self care examples

What Happens When You Don’t Practice Self-Care?

Self-care should be an essential part of your day as it is a tool to stay healthy and work out your values and expectations in life.

If there are barriers in your life preventing you from practicing self-care, you will face challenges, such as:

All these negative feelings result in you feeling anxious and frustrated in life.

You don’t want this, right? Then let’s look at how you can overcome those self-care barriers!

How To Overcome Barriers to Self-Care

Overcoming barriers to self care isn’t easy. You have to be determined and need to learn to put yourself first.

Say no to others and accept that those around will be upset about your decisions. It doesn’t always matter what they think.

Shift your mindset and stick to what you know is good for you.

You are responsible for your health.

1. Make Time For Yourself

It will be hard at first, but if you have a good think about it and plan out your day, you will realize that you can make time for self-care.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, if you need someone to watch your children or a loved one you usually care for.

Especially as parents, we need a break from our families. We can’t keep functioning like a robot and constantly do things for everyone else but ourselves.

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.

Jean Shinoda Bolen

2. Live More Intentionally

Take a few mental breaks throughout the day and think about what you’re doing and why. Do you just do things because you’re used to them? Are they even worth it?

Maybe a few things can be swapped out with a 5-minute self-care activity.

Also, journaling is a great way to let go of stress, take a break from the rush, and see the bigger picture.

Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It’s about listening to the needs of your soul and then honoring them.

Kristi Ling
self care barriers
Enjoy the moment

3. Know That You Are Worthy

Everyone on this planet deserves self-care, including you! Why should you be the one who does everything for everyone without getting anything back?

You are worthy of self-care – full stop. Read this again.

It’s also important for you to understand that self-care is not self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation.

Self-care has a lot to do with setting boundaries, taking breaks when you need them (not when you’re being told to have one), and mentally unplugging from work or other tasks that keep you busy.

You are beautiful and worthy of good things, and if you don’t believe that, nobody will.

Rachel Hollis

Related: How to write a love letter to yourself

4. Understand The Importance of Self-Care

Exhausting yourself won’t get you anywhere. That’s the harsh truth.

Everyone’s mind and body have a limit and if your inner self thinks it’s too much, you will break down.

Practicing self-care regularly helps to prevent this. You need to stay happy and healthy to keep doing what you love. You want to look after your family and be strong for them.

If you don’t do self-care, you can become unwell and at the same time become a burden to those around you.

Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.

Katie Reed

FAQs to Barriers to Self-Care

Is Self-Care The Same As Self-Love?

So, is self-care the same as self-love? No, self-care and self-love are not the same thing. Self-care is about taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Self-love is about accepting yourself for who you are, being kind and compassionate towards yourself and your values and beliefs.

What Are The Barriers To Self-Care In Nursing?

Wondering, what are the barriers to self-care in nursing? It’s hard to maintain self-care working as a nurse.

You need to multitask, have rotating shifts, and a lot of stress due to difficult patients and staff shortages.

What Is An Example Of Lack Of Self-Care?

Are you wondering, what is an example of lack of self-care? Lacking self-care can mean that you smoke more or drink alcohol excessively. Medication or drug addiction is also lack of self-care.

Self-Care Challenges

Try out this 30-day self-care challenge to get you into the habit and mood of self-care activities.

Once you do a little bit of self-care every day, you get used to the routine and wouldn’t want to miss it anymore.

30-Day Challenge Ideas To Overcome Barriers to Self-Care

  • 1. Meditate in the morning.
  • 2. Write down what you are grateful for today.
  • 3. Try out a new recipe.
  • 4. Set up a morning and an evening routine.
  • 5. Take a break from social media.
  • 6. Plan a day out with your friends.
  • 7. Declutter your wardrobe.
  • 8. Don’t eat any sugar for a day.
  • 9. Write down the things you would like to improve in your life.
  • 10. Go for a walk.
  • 11. Practice deep breathing.
  • 12. Focus on the positive things in your life.
  • 13. Let go of a toxic habit.
  • 14. Make your bed in the morning.
  • 15. Write down a few affirmations. Need inspiration?
  • 16. Make time to prepare yourself a healthy meal.
  • 17. Call your family to check on them.
  • 18. Reduce your to-do list.
  • 19. Make a puzzle.
  • 20. Drink 1.5 – 2 L of water.
  • 21. Go to bed 1 hour earlier.
  • 22. Block out half a day for yourself each week.
  • 23. Compliment yourself as well as others.
  • 24. Take the first step in learning a new skill or language.
  • 25. Set up a budget plan.
  • 26. Buy a book and read a few pages each day.
  • 27. Call your best friend.
  • 28. Go out on a date night.
  • 29. Clean your home.
  • 30. Go to the gym.

How Can You Take Care of Yourself Physically?

You can physically take care of yourself by doing the following activities:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Going for medical check-ups
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
barriers to self care

What Are Self Barriers in Communication?

So, what are self carriers in communication? Self or personal barriers prevent you from effective communication with others.

These barriers can be based on a lack of vocabulary, lack of listening skills, or lack of knowledge.

5 Benefits of Self-Care

Practicing self-care regularly helps you:

  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Improve your concentration
  • Focus better
  • Make you feel happier
  • Minimize anxiety
  • Boost your energy

Barriers to Self-Care: Before You Go . . .

Take baby steps every single day to let go of what’s stopping you from taking care of yourself.

Accept any help you can and use every minute you have to do what is best for you, even if it’s just taking a nap.

Find a balance between what’s expected from you and what you truly want to do to take care of yourself.

Understand what self-care is all about and think about what you can do today to let go of your barriers.

Go slow and take one step at a time. Good luck!

barriers to maintaining my self care strategies
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About The Author of Self Care Barriers

Saskia is a mom, blogger, and freelance writer. She loves sharing tips on self-care, personal growth, and productivity & organization. Find out more about her or get in touch with her here.

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