Self Neglect

One of the most crucial ways in which we can look after our well-being is by paying attention to our needs. Dismissing our needs can lead to increased frustration, anxiety, and fatigue. Neglect is when we fail to look after or pay attention to something. Neglect in childhood may look like adults brushing off, ignoring, or simply failing to notice a kid’s emotional needs. The child starts to learn that their emotional needs are not important and starts to ignore, brush off, or fail to notice it themselves. Emotional needs that were once neglected by others are now neglected by ourselves.


Self-neglect is when we fail to look after, or notice our own needs and put our well being at risk. It can also spill over and manifest itself in a way where the individual neglects to look after their hygiene, eating habits, and any other medical conditions.


Self-neglect can look like this:

  • Feeling “numb” or disconnected from one’s own emotions

  • Feeling “empty/hollow” inside

  • Increased sensitivity to rejection

  • Self-neglect can affect one’s self-esteem and confidence

  • Feeling overwhelmed easily



One of the easiest ways to prevent self-neglect would be to engage in and incorporate self-care into your routine. Self-care can look like this:

  • Physical self-care - includes how you are feeling and looking after your body—getting adequate sleep, including some physical activities in your daily routine, and being mindful of your eating habits.

  • Mental / Emotional self-care - these practices involve being in tune with your emotional needs and those around you. It also involves engaging in activities that challenge you, for example, puzzles, watching a movie, reading a book, etc. Journaling and practising self-compassion and acceptance also help maintain a healthy inner dialogue.

  • Social self-care - It’s easy to neglect our relationships or take them for granted when we get busy. However, close connections are important to our well and it's equally important to nurture them. Connecting with an old friend or someone you haven’t talked to in a while, going out and engaging in group activities are also a form of self-care.


Many times neglect can be challenging to identify. If you find your needs not being met, try to dig deeper into what those needs might be. It can become an overwhelming experience, and therapy can help provide a space where you feel more comfortable exploring what those needs might be and engaging in meaningful self-care.


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