Self-care, what exactly is it? According to Wikipedia, Self-Care is a necessary human regulatory function that is deliberate and self-initiated. There has been a huge push to develop a self-care regimen and for good reason.
On the American Psychological Association website, stress statstics show that in 2015 the overall stress levels in our country had increased slightly above the stress levels reported in 2014 among adults in America. Females (5.3) had a slight edge above Males (4.9) on reported stress levels. The information on the APA site also stated that since 2007, work and money were the top two sources of stress for adults. And the number three source of stress? Family responsibilities.
With that being said, PS10 encourages you to invest in taking care of yourself in four major domains: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Its not selfish, its healthy and smart!
In our search for best practices of self-care we will identify options for each domain. Feel free to use these suggestions as a sounding board to start practicing self-care or as an addition to what you are already doing to take care of yourself.
Lately, I feel as though everywhere I turn I find a dose of mental notes for myself with several different statements.
I have even placed a few in my work space, on my mirror, and in the cover of my daily planner so that I can see them when I need them. It encourages me and it reminds me of "where" I need to be- in a positive state of mind and stress free. Surrounding yourself with positive words and reminders can help give you the boost you need when you're feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by life. We put these positive statements on our FB page frequently. Check it out. In addition, if you are facing a lot of stressful events or a traumatic experience, don't feel as though you have to tackle it on your own. There are many times when professional intervention and mediation is the best "next step". Never be ashamed to seek a therapist or clinician for help processing what you are going through. Its easier to receive help now than to repair a broken spirit later. But it is never too late.
When we get stressed it can effect how we start to feel about ourselves. We question our self-worth, our abilities, our value, and/or our own emotional strength. These thoughts can lead to a sense of sadness, depression, anger, or frustration. However, practicing self-care can address this and make the greatest impact on your emotional health. Take care of how you are feeling. Its OK to feel the feeling in the moment but it's what you do with it that helps you move past it.
Feel the feeling. Talk about it (with yourself or someone else). Or write about it in a journal. Ask yourself "What do I need to feel better right now?" Refer to our Positive Coping Skills Toolkit and choose something that will soothe you and move you past that feeling. This list includes things you can do, hear, smell, and taste. But don't stop there, make sure to decide what you can do next. We experience these feelings when we don't like something or when something doesn't feel right. Figure it out and make a change.
*Remember, feeling uncomfortable feelings (anger, depression, frustration, etc.) is Ok, it's what you do to handle it that counts the most.
If we choose self-destructive coping strategies (i.e. getting high, covering it up, or lashing out) then we take our problem from being a pothole to being a whopping sink hole. You want to make sure you're prepared for those feelings, because even if sparse- negative situations will arise- its natural, its life, its inevitable.
If you have a church or a place to worship, this is a great base to start with. However, being spiritual doesn't mean being in a specific place. You should be tapping into your spirituality anywhere you are. If your on a train, in an Uber, or driving along on the interstate after a stressful day or event. Being able to pray, call out to Christ, sing an uplifting hymn, or quote an inspiring verse to yourself is also a form of spiritual self-care.
Just like the Positive Coping Skills Toolkit, you will need to have your soul prepared for trying moments- as we said, its inevitable. Preparing yourself includes setting aside time alone for yourself; knowing a verse or two that inspires you and helps you release your negative feelings; praying to God and leaving it with him; and believing in what you are hoping for.
A favorite song for me when I get down or stressed is "No Weapon", a spiritual song, by Fred Hammond. An example verse I enjoy is Proverbs 3:5 "With all your heart acknowledge Him and He will direct thy path".
Lastly, another way to become more spiritual is to make time to be in a quiet place, alone, and just "be". Also, if you are aware of how to meditate, create time and space to do so. Be in the moment. Connect with your "being" apart of the world, the purpose of your presence, and the peace you can have from the experience. As stated before, use these tips as a sounding board or add to your already established self-care regimen.
Sometimes, this is the part some of us try to avoid. Getting exercise and Eating right. However, there are so many positive benefits to being active and selecting healthy foods to eat. If you are financially able to get a membership to a local gym, this will help! There are classes and plenty of structured resources to tap into right there. For example, many gyms offer members massages (for a fee).
If a gym membership is not within your budget, there are an abundance of other options. Such as: A peaceful walk along a park trail 2-3 times a week; A bike ride in the neighborhood; A walk around the high school track; And sometimes your local YMCA or hospital will offer free community exercise classes, such as Zumba. Ofcourse there is always the option to look up an online exercise routine- try Youtube first. (I found this helpful if you're interested in trying Yoga.)
How we treat our bodies will become evident when we experience stress. We will either buckle or we will thrive. We can feel better about our situation if we take care of our bodies. This includes some pampering- getting a hair cut, getting your nails done, etc. These are forms of self-care which takes care of your physical body. Taking care of yourself from the inside out is a good start to developing a self-care plan.
Whew, we have touched briefly on four domains for self-care that you can use to combat stressful moments in your life. In all actuality, they are all intertwined in some form. If you can prepare for each ahead of time: surrounding yourself with positive statements, keeping in mind your spiritual place, making healthy choices for your body, and choosing from the Positive Coping Skills Toolkit, you will develop peace in a more timely manner which will help you to take better care of yourself. Good luck!
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*Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, the information in this article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a professional for treatment of any clinical mental illness. Do not take advice on Positive Steps10, LLC website as professional advice for you and your situation without formal consultation as such with a PS10, LLC professional with a contract for services.
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