From Neglected to Nourished

In the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, it’s all too common for women to find themselves continually neglecting their own needs and well-being, often at the expense of their physical and mental health. The constant juggling of responsibilities, paired with societal pressures and self-imposed guilt, has led many to put themselves last on their ever-expanding to-do lists. 

As a Wellness Coach, I am passionate about shedding light on the detrimental effects of neglecting oneself and providing actionable steps to break free from this cycle of self-sacrifice. 

When I talk to my clients about the challenges they face, I often use the word “neglect”.  

Neglect, in this context, refers to the habitual act of prioritizing the needs of others at the expense of your own.

It manifests in various ways – stress, weight gain, aches and pains in the body, poor sleep quality, unhealthy eating habits, difficulty focusing, lack of productivity, irritability, low sex drive, and an overall feeling of despair. 

Too often, I see my clients ignoring these signs or their “check engine light” and they are usually one “fire drill” away from burning out.   It’s crucial to acknowledge the signs of neglect in our daily lives, such as chronic exhaustion, overwhelming feelings, and a persistent sense of guilt for even considering self-care.

What I’ve found to be true for most is that our habit of neglect has deep-seated roots in trauma, which can stem from various sources:

  • Internal Narratives: The stories we tell ourselves about prioritizing our own needs can be a significant factor. Some may believe that self-care is selfish or that they don’t deserve it. These narratives are often influenced by societal expectations and ingrained gender roles, where women must be the caregiver, nurturer, and support system, plus maintain the homestead, their career, their physical appearance, and their relationships…and do it all without complaining or looking exhausted. 
  • Societal Pressures: Our society tends to reward overcommitment and glorify the idea of burning ourselves out for the sake of productivity. Women, in particular, face immense pressure to excel in both their professional and personal lives, often leading to self-neglect.  As I was moving my way up the Corporate ladder and building my business, I was never rewarded for upholding boundaries, saying “no” when I was at capacity, or taking time off to prioritize my mental health. 
  • Social Circles: The people we surround ourselves with can also contribute to our neglect.  Some people in our lives – family, friends, or colleagues – may inadvertently guilt us into neglecting ourselves or make us feel obligated to do things we don’t want to.  I will say that, oftentimes, it is not malicious, it’s just that “you do it so well” or “you’re the best person for this” and that can feed your ego a bit and prompt you to say “yes”.    The other side of the coin is that we may not have women in our lives who model, support, and hold us accountable for taking care of ourselves, so when we do, our circles look at us like we are selfish for doing so.  

I truly believe that we are moving into a true health crisis, as more and more women are beginning to feel and see the negative consequences of self-neglect.  It is usually when the cost of living in a state of constant stress, burnout, and overwhelm becomes too great that we are forced to take action and break free from the habit of neglecting our physical and mental health.  

This may look like dropping the ball on a big project, forgetting to pick up your child from school, getting a bad report from your doctor about your health, or having a panic attack in your car as you are driving to work.  

So, how do we break the habit of neglecting ourselves?  

When I am working with clients, I use a simple framework during our first few sessions, before we even start working on meal plans or exercise programs.  

  1. Identify the Limiting Beliefs: If I notice a habit of self-neglect that is impacting their physical and mental health, I examine the beliefs that are driving the unhealthy behaviors.  This is a huge part of the psychology of change.  Starting with the beliefs, usually fast tracks us to adopting habits faster and sustaining them for greater results.  
  2. Rewrite The Sabotaging Stories: Next, we work on challenging the negative narratives that have been created about self-care. These sabotaging stories play on repeat all day and every time they get a chance or make a decision to prioritize themselves, the stories or what I call the “Inner Critic” cranks up the volume.  Rewriting the story helps to empower my clients and offers real data on the importance of taking better care of themselves. 
  3. Create Space For Nourishment: Finally, we look at what is currently on their plate and start to get clear on what needs to stay, what needs to be minimized, and what needs to be removed.  We look at time management, priority management, habit stacking, and boundaries, so that we have clarity on the self-care practices – fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, joy, etc. – can be seamlessly integrated into their complicated schedules. 

Only after these three phases have been completed, can we start the process of prioritizing self-care practices and I can truly support them with guidance, support, and accountability.   Which I found to be what a lot of my clients struggled with in the past.  They jumped right to the excessive workouts, restrictive diets, expensive procedures, and unrealistic expectations, without looking at the root cause of their self-neglect.  

Though this approach may initially shock the system, it genuinely empowers clients from the inside out, paving the way for them to become healthier, happier, and more fulfilled versions of themselves. This, in essence, is what the Nourished Life is all about.

My mission is unequivocal: to help women liberate themselves from the cycle of self-sacrifice, heal from trauma, and incorporate self-care as a non-negotiable aspect of their daily lives. When we transition from being neglected to nourished, we can ensure we have the energy and strength to care for both others and ourselves. Remember, your well-being matters, and it’s time to make it a priority.