I’ve heard it said that a person can tell where another’s priorities lie by looking at his or her calendar and checkbook. I agree, but a blanket statement such as this can be discouraging in situations where there is little we can do to change our current circumstances. For example, if my calendar reflects weekend visits and my checkbook reflects alimony, my priority is likely seeing my children (though this doesn’t make my situation any easier to deal with). In reality, not many of us have the option of doing first what we value most. So, what can you do when you find yourself in the midst of a situation that requires a lot of your mental, emotional, or perhaps even financial capacity? Self-care.
Self-care is tending to your personal health—emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually—in order to improve your well-being, regardless of your circumstances. Self-care is paying attention to your body, mind, and soul, and taking action to guard against or prevent stress and worry from building up in your life. Here are some self-care tips to consider:
1. Exercise and watch your diet. If you are consistently tired and lacking energy, consider what you are eating that may be contributing to your lethargy. For example, too much sugar or carbohydrates may leave you feeling sluggish, whereas incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein sources into your diet may boost your energy level. Or, going for a relaxing walk or a jog after a long day may be enough to release endorphins and increase dopamine levels, which can lead to your feeling more optimistic and energetic.
2. Pick up a hobby, join a group, or recreational sport. Add something to your schedule that you would enjoy doing, which would break up your normal routine. Perhaps you always wanted to take a pottery class or a cooking class?! Maybe you would just like to get a group together to play pick-up basketball in your neighborhood or at the local YMCA. Whatever you decide to do, it needs to be good for your mind and soul. In other words, make sure it’s a stress reliever for you!
3. Rest and relax. Maybe all you want is to be by yourself for one hour a week! As in all self-care endeavors, carve out the time to do so. Make arrangements for someone to watch the kids for an hour, or finish up all your paperwork before you leave for the day. Then, once you’re alone, leave your to-do list and other menial tasks behind. Take a nap, read a book, pray, enjoy some tea on your porch, or learn a deep breathing exercise:
We all have obligations and responsibilities, time pressures and scheduling conflicts. But among those responsibilities is self-care, not for ourselves’ sake as an end, but for the sake of our relationship with others. We cannot be our best in relationship to those around us if we have not first kept our own health in check. Your heart, mind, body and soul are God’s gift to you. There will never be another like you, nor will anyone else’s life influence others the way yours does. With this in mind, please…take care.
-Kensi Duszynski, staff therapist