Get your self-care journey back on track

Woman standing on dock near lake with inflatable canoe in water. Her hands are lifted up in victory as she's succeeded in her self-care journey.

Have you tried taking better care of yourself—like exercising more, fitting in time to relax, or getting to bed earlier—only to see your efforts fall short?

We often start our self-care journey with the best of intentions. But then one life storm after another batters us—leaving us tired, frustrated, and low in reserves.

And before we know it, our self-care boat has sunk, we’re in an inflatable raft, and wellbeing island is nowhere in sight.

As busy moms we’ve likely all been in this situation—watching our hopes for a healthier and happier future painfully recede in the distance.

In these difficult moments, it’s easy to find ourselves back-paddling and caught up in negative thoughts.

But there are ways to get past these mishaps and steer our self-care journey back on track.

Read on to find out how!

Woman paddling canoe at sunset to represent self-care journey

1. Don’t let old habits undermine your progress

When things get tough, we tend to revert back to old behaviours. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance typically isn’t the best one for our wellbeing.

In fact, it’s often the opposite of what we really need.

When faced with old triggers we may find ourselves:

  • Reaching for a sugary treat over a nutritious snack
  • Cleaning the house rather than fitting in a walk
  • Surfing social media over getting to bed on time
  • Running another errand instead of pausing to relax

But here’s where things really go south.

In our whoopsie moments, we risk becoming temporarily blinded to past successes—no matter how small these past victories might be.

Hours, days, even weeks of good self-care are suddenly sabotaged by a single passing storm.

And rather than dig in with more resolve to put our wellbeing first, we start backtracking.

That one cookie becomes two then three then four as a “why bother taking better care of myself” mentality settles in.

And the result?

We end up moving farther away rather than closer to the better life we deserve.

Woman lying in bed with covers partially pulled up over her face and reaching for cell phone. Intended to represent the difficulty of breaking old habits.
Photo by blackCAT

2. Watch out for negative internal chatter

We’re quick to self-judge.

And self-doubt—along with fear of failure—can sabotage our journey before it has even fully started.

It’s the voice that crops up in our heads and becomes increasingly insistent. It’s the unhelpful internal critical chatter that tells us: “If you only worked harder or where a better person—you’d succeed.”

Unless we’re equipped to handle this internal monologue, negative self-talk is prone to blowing us off course and marooning even the best laid self-care plans.

Our negative internal chatter isn’t the whole truth. However, it can feel pretty convincing and insistent—especially when it echos societal assumptions about self-care and motherhood.

The thing is, we don’t have to let self-doubt spoil our progress. We can challenge unhelpful thoughts, and by doing so, lessen their insistence and impact.

But how do we accomplish this feat?

With self-compassion and small actionable steps—essential self-care journey strategies that we’ll cover below.

African American Woman with hands wrapped around herself standing in front of an ocean scene
Photo by pixdeluxe

3. Start your self-care journey with self-compassion

Self-love means accepting yourself fully for who you are, flaws and all.

Self-care and self-love are separate but related concepts. When we participate in self-care, we send ourselves the message that we’re worth the time and effort. Thus, each act of self-care is a vote in favour of our self-worth.

But self-love also means loving and accepting ourselves even when we miss the mark with our self-care. 

And this is where self-compassion comes into play.

When you’ve struggled to fit in an act of self-care you could tell you’re lazy—that you’ve let yourself down and that you’re doomed to always put yourself last.

Or you could give yourself a good dose of self-compassion. This means treating yourself as you would a good friend—offering warm understanding and encouragement in the face of failure.

We all get off track on our journey to a better life.

Missing the mark doesn’t make you a bad person. Nor dose it mean you’ll never succeed. Rather falling short of your goals makes you human.

Which perspective on failure is more likely to feel good in the moment and help you attend to your self-care in the future?

I think we can all agree it’s the second one—the approach grounded in self-compassion rather than self-criticism.

So, when things don’t go as planned, be kind to yourself!

We’re more likely to deal with hardship—and enjoy success—when we come from a place of kindness and support rather than disdain and criticism.

Woman holding a red heart shaped candy out in front of her symbolizing the importance of self-compassion to success on a self-care journey
Photo by agrobacter

4. Focus on the very next step you take

The path to success—including self-care success—is squiggly not straight.

We all fail sometimes. And without readiness to try (and try again), we wouldn’t move a single inch forward from where we are now.

The strongest predictor for success is not giving up.

Thus, the goal here is to move slowly but surely towards integrating self-care regularly into your life.

You can’t change the past nor can you fully control what happens days, weeks, or months from now. But you can set your sights on the next decision you make.

So, make it count!

How might thus look when applied to our self-care journey?

Next time you falter on your self-care journey, what kids words can you offer yourself when you fall short of your self-care goals. Write these encouraging phrases done and keep them close at hand.

Also, rather than get stuck berating yourself for a mistake, try ask yourself: “What is the very next step I can take to get back on track?”

Then at the next opportunity, take that step.

The moment of indiscretion will come and pass, regardless. But the direction you head—away or towards your destination—is ultimately in your hands.

So choose to move towards the destination you desire and know that with you step forward, you reinforce the kind of person we want to be—someone willing to invest in yourself and take action towards personally meaningful goals.

Long term success doesn’t come from unflagging success but from how quickly and persistently we get back on track— along with the belief that we are truly worth the effort—flaws and all.

Woman's feet traveling over a winding path of stepping stones in water
Photo by baona

What’s your next self-care step?

We start our self-care journey with the best intentions.

But life inevitably gets in the way. We get sick, our kids get sick, cars break down, we misplace essential items, and we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic.

Some of these challenges are predictable. But many are not.

An ultimately, it’s our approach to life’s challenges that matters the most.

We can treat ourselves unkindly in the face of difficulty. Or we can give ourselves a big dose of self-compassion, regroup, and figure the next step we can take towards a healthier and happier future.

What next small step can you take, mama, towards the better future you deserve?

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you find it hard to meet your wellness goals? What has helped you stay on track? Please share in the comments below!

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