10 signs you need to focus on yourself: What to do and a step-by-step guide

In today’s busy world, it’s common to lose sight of our own well-being amidst numerous obligations.

This article outlines ten signs that indicate the need to prioritize self-care.

It also offers a practical step-by-step guide to help you focus on yourself effectively.

Let’s begin with the first sign you need to focus more on yourself.

1) You’re non-stop busy 

Life is demanding and there are always things to be doing.

But there is such a thing as being too busy.

If you find yourself being flat out busy all the time, there’s a chance that you need to focus on yourself a bit more. 

I’ll admit it: I’ve been guilty of keeping myself far too busy.

I’ve had a habit of hiding behind my work commitments and all of my errands, which has meant I’ve not ‘had the time’ to sit with myself and to turn the focus inwards.

Truth is, it’s up to us to make the time.

We all have the same amount of time each day… And there are many people who give a lot of time to focusing on themselves, while balancing work and life generally. 

In order to bring the focus back to yourself in the midst of your busy schedule, just start by carving out five minutes at the beginning of the day and five at the end.

Simply put, give yourself a window of time to do whatever it is you want.

This might include meditating, doing some breathwork or grounding down in nature without any shoes on. 

Five minutes might seem insignificant, but it’s not…

…Especially if you don’t even give yourself five minutes as it is. 

2) People are telling you that you seem off

Have your nearest and dearest asked you if things are alright with you?

As in, have they asked if they can help you because you seem like you’re struggling.

If people around you have said that something seems off about you and they’re worried about you, then it might be that you need to focus on yourself more.

I’m not talking about people being rude and suggesting that you’re “off”… I’m talking about those that love you raising genuine concern for your well being.

This is because they care!

I’ve had this happen to me before… 

My mum, who I’m super close to, took me to one side and asked if I was doing okay because I seemed more stressed than usual.

Truth is, I wasn’t doing okay and I was struggling with the amount of pressure I was under from other people.

As a result, I realized that I needed to come back to myself and to focus on what is actually important to me.

I realized I needed to put myself first and that I needed to do what was right for my personal journey. 

In doing so, it allowed me to come back into balance!

3) You’re being pulled into other people’s dramas

Drama is inevitable.

There’s always one drama or another happening with people in life. 

Sometimes dramas can be insignificant and harmless while others can actually be pretty serious. 

For example, a drama could be about something that someone said to another person or it could be a court case. 

Simply put, one could have serious consequences and ruin a person’s life, while the other could just be a bit unpleasant.

Regardless of how serious a drama is, it’s easy to get sucked in.

In the past, I’ve found myself getting way too sucked into other people’s dramas.

I’d go as far as saying I’ve almost become obsessed with talking about other people’s dramas. 

Rather than thinking about things that are important to me, I’ve found myself obsessing over my boyfriend’s dramas at work.

It went as far as telling other people who don’t know him about it!

When I realized I was getting pulled in far too deep by other people’s dramas, I made the conscious decision to say that I will stop myself from getting too invested and talking about it.

I came up with a strategy that included:

  • Pause
  • Reflect
  • Decide

Simply put, when I found myself wanting to talk about someone else’s drama I paused in real time and reflected on whether it was healthy and necessary to do it, before I decided to not talk about it.

This allowed me to not put the focus on someone else and their circumstances.

4) You’re shorter with people than usual

argue 10 signs you need to focus on yourself: What to do and a step-by-step guide

It’s natural that our moods all fluctuate.

We might be happy one hour and sad the next. 

In other words, we might be doing really well for a period of time, but low the next!

This is just the way life goes.

But if you find that you’re being super short with people and it’s more than usual, it could be that you need to focus on yourself!

You may have lost touch with yourself a little bit.

If this feels like it’s the case, you’ll need to check back in with yourself to bring yourself in a state of more balance.

Simply put, we can find that our emotions are all over the shop if we don’t keep tabs on them!

There are many reasons why you might find your emotions have a mind of their own…

Maybe you have too many things going on or maybe you’re having relationship issues and it’s stressing you out.

Whatever it is personally for you, it’s important you take the time to focus on you in order to get control of your emotions…

…And not to be short with others!

5) You’re being critical of yourself

Being critical of ourselves just does more harm than good. 

It’s not a bad idea to think about the ways in which we can make progress and keep growing, but that’s very different to being critical! 

Criticizing ourselves is a form of negative self-talk…

…And, over time, that will affect your self-esteem and how worthy you believe you are.

I’ve also been guilty of this: I’ve found myself thinking things like:

“You don’t make good decisions and no one wants to be your friend because of it.”

I’ve been so horrible and critical about myself! But I managed to change this… 

Now, you won’t be able to get in control of your critical self-talk unless you take the time to go inwards and sit with yourself.

In other words, you need to sit quietly and focus on yourself to stop the negative talk!

During this time, it’s important to affirm words of self-love

These could include:

  • I am enough 
  • I am doing well
  • I am happy with my decisions
  • I am in control of my life
  • Everything is working out

The best bit?

Every time you affirm these thoughts you override the critical thoughts that keep you small!

6) You’re overeating 

Are you an emotional eater?

As in, do you find yourself eating sweet, salty or snacks of any variety when you feel stressed or anxious?

It could be an indication that you need to focus on yourself.

Overeating (especially foods that aren’t good for us) points to a deeper sign that shouldn’t be ignored! 

It can signal that you’re disconnected from yourself, and that you need to take some time to check back in.

What’s more, overeating is not harmless… It can have a serious negative effect on our health.

Not only will it affect your physical health, but it will likely affect your mental health as you feel bad about yourself as a result!

In my experience, I’ve never felt good when I’ve over-eaten in the past. 

Although I’ve literally felt like chocolate can save me in the past, all it’s done has made me feel sick, bloated and bad about myself!

Next time you find yourself overeating, don’t just accept it for what it is… 

…Take it as a cue that signals you’re disconnected from yourself and that you need to focus on yourself.

Turn it into a positive! 

7) You’re finding it hard to focus on simple tasks

Now, feeling inspired is so important in life.

When we’re not inspired, it can be hard to focus and actually get anything done.

But when we are inspired, we can feel unstoppable!

In my experience, I’ve felt this when I’ve been writing papers for my studies that I care deeply about. 

People around me would confirm that it’s literally impossible to pull me away from the task at hand. 

However, I can tell you it’s a totally different story when I’ve been uninspired.

When the work in front of me has felt unstimulating and I’ve not been engaged, it has felt like the hardest thing in the world to do.

Simply put, I turn into a master procrastinator when I don’t care about the tasks in front of me.

You’ve likely felt the same!

Now, it all comes down to your values. 

If you know what you value and care about then you can identify when something is going to inspire you, and when it’s likely going to leave you feeling flat.

If you don’t know what your values are, you can get super clear through this free checklist by Jeanette Brown.

Designed to help you get clear about your values, the checklist will be an important source to return to time and time again.

It will help you focus on yourself and guide you… 

…So you don’t go through life feeling like you don’t know what you care about!

8) You’re exhausted 

self focus 3 10 signs you need to focus on yourself: What to do and a step-by-step guide

With exhaustion, I’m not talking about being a little bit sleepy…

Being exhausted can make it feel impossible to go about simple, everyday tasks. 

You can tell if you’re exhausted if you feel like napping all the time and you find yourself falling asleep in an instant! 

If you’re at a point of exhaustion, it can point to the fact you need to focus on yourself!

There are definitely times where I’ve found myself exhausted because I’ve been ‘burning the candle at both ends’.

In other words, I’ve been trying to work and play hard, and the rest!

Now, rather than seeing this realization as a negative, you can take it as a positive cue to bring in more self-care.

You don’t need to do anything radical…

…Just start by getting in bed a little bit earlier.

Start with thirty minutes before building up to an hour and so on!

As you bring in more rest, you’ll find that you generally feel better about yourself and life.

You see, the smallest tweaks can have a massive knock-on effect. 

9) You’re spending all of your time with someone else

Be honest with yourself: how much ‘you’ time do you get?

Simply put, when was the last time you took yourself on a date by yourself or did something that you wanted to do because: why not?

If the answer is ‘too long ago’, then it’s time to focus on yourself!

What’s more, it doesn’t just have to be a romantic partner that we end up spending all of our time with, it can be friends or housemates too.

Recently, I came to realize that I needed to focus more on myself having spent so much time with my boyfriend.

I got into a habit of spending days on end at his place, which caused me to lose touch with myself…

…You see, we would spend so long analyzing the relationship, bickering and I was listening to all of his dramas and issues with his life.

Sure, this is part of a relationship, but it can become too all-consuming.

To bring the focus back to myself, I made the decision to create some more space. 

In practical terms, this meant seeing him just once or twice a week as opposed to days on end. 

Now, if you live with friends that you spend too much time with, you can simply let them know that you’re doing to introduce a weekly date with yourself (or something that feels good), just to get some more ‘you’ time in.

If they’re decent, real friends, they’ll be supportive of your decision! 

If you’re wondering whether you’ve been spending too much time with people, take out your calendar and have a look at the last time you actually did something by yourself! 

10) You have unexplained frustration 

Feeling frustrated can be very valid…

…But do you feel like you have unexplained frustration?

For example, do you feel frustrated at people without a real reason?

It could almost feel like it’s totally illogical! 

I’ve had it where I’ve felt super annoyed at my mum for literally just speaking.

I can think of an instance where I felt such frustration for the fact she was trying to help me with a situation and sharing kind words. 

I know, it doesn’t make sense… 

…But this is what I mean by unexplained frustration.

You see, she wasn’t the issue; the issue was the fact I had things going on inside me and I wasn’t connected to myself. 

If you’ve experienced this, it could be that you need to focus on yourself more than you have been!

The importance of self-care

Prioritizing self-care is essential for maintaining overall well-being and leading a fulfilling life.

It goes beyond mere pampering and indulgence; self-care encompasses practices that nourish and nurture every aspect of our being.

Taking time for ourselves allows us to recharge, reduce stress, and cultivate a healthy relationship with ourselves and others.

By investing in self-care, we lay the foundation for better physical health, improved mental clarity, enhanced emotional resilience, and stronger relationships.

Overcoming barriers to self-care

While recognizing the importance of self-care is crucial, it’s common to encounter barriers that hinder our ability to prioritize it.

Guilt, societal expectations, perfectionism, lack of self-awareness, and fear of judgment are some of the common obstacles that prevent us from engaging in self-care practices.

Overcoming these barriers requires self-compassion, assertiveness, and a willingness to challenge societal norms.

Remember that prioritizing self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-preservation and empowerment.

Self-care for different life stages

Self-care needs may vary depending on the different life stages we find ourselves in.

Whether we’re navigating parenthood, career transitions, or retirement, it’s essential to adapt our self-care practices to align with our unique circumstances.

For parents, self-care can involve carving out moments of solitude, seeking support from others, and setting boundaries to preserve personal time.

In times of career changes, self-care may involve seeking professional development, setting realistic goals, and managing stress effectively.

Even in retirement, self-care means staying active, maintaining social connections, and pursuing hobbies that bring joy and fulfillment.

What to do next

Now that you understand the importance of self-care and have insights into overcoming barriers and tailoring it to different life stages, it’s time to take action.

Start by committing to small but consistent self-care practices that resonate with you.

Experiment with different activities, such as exercise, journaling, mindfulness, creative outlets, or spending time in nature, to find what 17brings you the most joy and rejuvenation.

Additionally, I highly recommend joining Jeanette Brown’s “Reset Your Life Compass Challenge.”

This free online course offers valuable guidance in connecting within, understanding your values, and aligning your life more effectively with them.

By participating in this challenge, you’ll gain clarity on what truly matters to you and receive practical tools to enhance your self-care journey.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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