May 29, 2023
min read

Why You’re Not Taking Better Care of Yourself (& How to Start a Self-Care Routine)

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“Health care professionals tend to ignore their own needs,” says Alka Chopra, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.

When Alka first released her 12-week course, called “Tiny Habits”,  based entirely on Self Care, she was immediately overwhelmed with responses.

She received at least 40 messages from people saying “I could do with some better habits…”

These people were doctors, lawyers, psychotherapists, counselors…

Intelligent people. People who give their lives to caring for others. People who know the importance of taking care of themselves…

And yet, they still don’t.


And it’s not just health care professionals.

“When I was asking my patients this question, ‘do you have a self-care routine?’ They would look at me as if I was an alien,” Alka says.

“I started to feel that the self care piece was missing in people's lives.” - Alka Chopra, RD

Why Don’t People Take Better Care of Themselves?

We all know we should take better care of ourselves, so why don’t we?

Here are some reasons we have such a hard time taking a much-needed pause:

  1. We feel pressured to perform.

“I think we’re all in the rat race,” Alka says, “We just want to fulfill our responsibilities and not take care of ourselves and not pay attention to our own needs.”

Maybe you’re nodding your head.

Maybe your life feels like a hamster wheel you can’t get off. Maybe you keep telling yourself you’re burnt out and just need a vacation to Aruba.

But therein lies another problem…

2. Self-care is glamourized and misrepresented

When people think of self-care, they think of spending a full day at the spa, spending thousands of dollars, or going for an expensive vacation….”

Self-care doesn’t have to be a big deal. We’ll get into that in just a minute.

3. We have major responsibilities.

Taking time for self-care is easier for some people than others.

“You might be a caregiver. There might be a child with special-needs in the house,” says Alka, “But unless you take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. When you're flying, what does the air hostess say? ‘You've got to first put the mask on yourself, and only then put the mask on for your child…’

“The same principle applies to self care. And self care doesn’t have to be fancy. It's just small, tiny habits.”

4. We let perfectionism get in the way.

When you imagine yourself indulging in self-care, you have this perfect, rose-tinted idea in your head.

Let go of that.

“There are no rules,” says Alka, “Perfection is a very subjective term. What’s perfect for me might not be perfect for you. Literally take that out of your dictionary and enjoy the process.”

For Alka, the process of creating brings her joy. Whether she’s whipping up a recipe, creating a piece of art with paint all over her hands, or simply enjoying a coloring book.

It doesn’t have to be fancy.

What Are We Talking About When We’re Talking About Self Care?

“When I talk about self care, I'm talking about daily needs,” Alka says.

She invites us to ask ourselves some questions…

Do you pay attention to how much water you’ve had today?

Do you pay attention to how many cups of coffee or tea you’ve had?

Did you get enough sleep last night?

Simple stuff. Baby steps.

“We’re always on a skateboard, so to speak, all the time. We don’t even step back… to really focus on ourselves and reflect on how we’re leading our lives.”

Ways You Can Practice Self-Care Today

Alka believes there are different facets to self-care. But she also believes self-care should be simple. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Reflect for “literally two minutes” in the morning

“Have you ever gotten up in the morning, sat down, and for literally two minutes, have you reflected on how your day is going to be? How your day was yesterday?” She encourages us to pause after waking -- stretch, look into the sunshine, stand out in nature, and check in.

What can yesterday’s lessons teach you so you can have a better today and better tomorrow?

2. Spend time in nature

“Go outside, take off your slippers, stand out on the patio or grass… see and enjoy nature, enjoy the birds chirping,” Alka says.

Simple enough, right?

“It’s called grounding.”

3. Get a coloring book or do some art.

That’s right -- Alka wants you to connect with your inner Bob Ross.

“Go to the dollar store, pick up a package of colored pencils, get an adult coloring book, and spend 15 minutes, maybe put some soft music in the background....”

“Those 15 minutes you devote to yourself are going to be golden for you.”

4. Get a hobby

A hobby is more than collecting stamps or bird watching…

Spending time doing what we love gives us a sense of purpose… it’s time we spend not trying to get any “work” done.

“People don't think of hobbies, says Alka, “They'll say, ‘I go to the gym, I do physical activity regularly.’ Well, that is not a hobby.”

A hobby is something you don’t have to do, necessarily…

It’s different from what you do as a living.

A hobby could be anything!

5. Stop complaining

As humans, we like to over-identify with what annoys us or makes us feel frustrated.

Alka reminds us… if we’re in a rut… to take steps to get out of it. Instead of complaining, do something about it.

What if you still don’t have time for self-care?

This is not an all-or-nothing process.

“I like to get my hands dirty with paint,” Alka says, “Beads, clay… those things light me up. I crave for those.” So what does she do when she can’t satisfy her cravings?

“I’ll just go and touch my art supplies. I just touch them. And it just makes me happy. Just go to your creative space or wherever, and move things around. Just reorganize a few things.”

(Psst — using nutrition practice software can save time and help you connect closely with each nutrition client, offering them the personalized nutrition attention they need to get real results. Meal Garden makes it possible to create, curate, and share dietitian-approved recipes, and modify meals and collections based on each client’s unique needs. Why wait? It’s free to join.)


Check out Alka’s online course for self-care by clicking here.

Further Reading:

The Magical world of Plants: How this Nutritionist Uses Adaptogens for Stress

How This Holistic Nutritionist Followed Her Dreams (to Costa Rica!) with Meal Garden

5 Critical Keys for Creating & Selling A Successful Online Course - with Lesli Bitel

Intuitive Eating & Meal Planning: Are Both Possible?


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