Updated: Aug 13, 2021
Many of us lead very hectic lives and are constantly trying to take care of others. We are overly consumed with our family responsibilities, and work obligations, while neglecting our own needs. Many of us are not aware of the harmful effects of stress we place on both our mind and bodies to accomplish the responsibilities we face each and everyday. I know we may have been taught to put other's needs first but what if we get burned out doing it. What if we need someone to take care of us for a change? What if we get sick and need a break from the proverbial "rat race" we consume ourselves with everyday!
As a mother & daughter, I grew up with the traditional roles as being a "nurturer" for my family. As a child, I witnessed this role first hand with my own mother and grandmother for many years. I noticed my grandmother tirelessly cook full course meals, for my grandfather and the children, clean the house, wash, the clothes, work two jobs, and volunteer at church, only to return home each day to repeat the process all over again the next day, I also witnessed the very same traditional role in my mother and it was soon passed to me. But what I never witnessed was either of them taking a well deserved "time-out" for themselves. I now realize, there are generational traditions that need not be passed on to the next generation.
As I reflect, the one word that describes both my mother and grandmother is "self-less'. They always taught me that it was "better to give than receive" and take care of your responsibilities but never shared their stories of what happens when you are the one who needs to be taken care of. This why I have learned to practice "self-care" or as I like to say "It's OK to be selfish".
To do all the things we do on a daily basis requires a healthy mind and body. If not properly checked, the stress of taking on too much has the tendency to throw the mind and body out of balance and lead to mental illness and/or physical sickness. This is why self-care is necessary for all. Ways to practice self-care can vary from person to person. I have shared a few ways below: (ref https://www.psychologytoday.com/)
When you feel stressed and need a calm mind, try focusing on the sensations around you—sights, smells, sounds, tastes, touch. This will help you focus on the present moment, giving you a break from your worries.
Breathe in fresh air.
Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
Burn a scented candle.
Listen to music.
A great way to take care of yourself when you’re coping with stress is to engage in a pleasurable activity. Try one of these ideas.
Take yourself out to eat.
Watch a movie.
Make art. Do a craft project.
You can also give yourself a boost by doing a task that you’ve been avoiding or challenging your brain. This can also boost self-confidence.
Clean out a junk drawer or a closet.
Immerse yourself in a crossword puzzle.
Do a word search.
Read something on a topic you wouldn’t normally.
Getting in touch with your values—what really matters—is a sure way to cope with stress and foster a calm mind. Activities that people define as spiritual are very personal. Here are a few ideas.
Read poetry or inspiring quotes.
Dealing with our emotions can be challenging when we’re coping with stress. We tend to label emotions as “good” or “bad,” but this isn’t helpful. Instead:
Accept your feelings. They’re all OK. Really.
Cry when you need to.
Laugh when you can. (Try laughter yoga.)
Coping with stress by engaging the body is great because you can bypass a lot of unhelpful mental chatter. It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re doing one of the following self-care activities.
Go for a walk or a run.
Connecting with others is an important part of self-care. This can mean activities such as:
Go on a lunch date with a good friend.
Calling a friend on the phone.
Participating in a book club.
Joining a support group.
Lastly, remember, you're not alone. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed by life, practice self-care......it's OK to be selfish!
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