Many times, we tend to become so engulfed in work and invested in helping others until we place our own needs and self-care on the back burner. This is particularly true during this past year as we have faced several unprecedented events and crises. One of the most common perceptions is “I’m okay”, “I’ll rest later”, or “I’ll have time later”. Unfortunately for some, “later” may come too late. There never seems to be enough time to devote to one’s well-being such as preparing healthy meals, connecting with family, exercising, or reading a good book. Upon reaching the point of exhaustion, our bodies will respond physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may begin to feel overwhelmed, over-worked, stressed, irritable, and isolated. You may even recognize difficulty completing tasks, staying focused, or having memory issues. Before long, these feelings and symptoms may cause you to lose confidence or doubt your competency in your work and other responsibilities.
There is no doubt that your work and familial roles are important. However, in order to feel your best and be of good service to others, you must take time to take better care of yourself. Find yourself an accountability partner and practice self-care. Love yourself on purpose! Using the instructions from flight attendants, you must “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” We cannot ignore the fatigue, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms that appear when we are overwhelmed. It takes effort to find examples and support systems that will assist us in winding down and living longer, healthier lives.
Some examples of self – care include:
· Eating healthy meals/snacks
· Learning a new hobby or skill
· Saying NO to activities or people who drain you (it’s OK to say NO)
· Connecting with friends and family
· Reading a book for pleasure, not work
· Taking a long bath or shower
· Taking a nature walk
· Listening to music
· Positive affirmations/positive self-talk
· Intentionally doing nothing
Once you begin to care for yourself and give yourself permission to relax, you will have to motivation and energy to deal with your normal routines. You will have less anxiety and will likely have more quality sleep.
Talking to a mental health professional and having a conversation regarding how stress interferes with your mental well-being may be a freeing experience. Be the best you can be with your mental health in mind.