Are you taking enough time for yourself?

Post by Laura Jay-Ballinger, MA, LMHC

Self-care is a simple concept with a difficult application in life.  It is an essential part of emotional well-being and something that is often overlooked.  We get into the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and often focus our attention on to-do lists or taking care of others. 

If you are a care-taker for others, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is a vital part of that process.  How are you supposed to give to others if you are emotionally drained?  Though it might seem easier at first to not take time to care for ourselves, we must first focus on keeping our “energy tank” full in order to provide good care for others.

Stress can take a toll on your body physically and emotionally.  Unaddressed stress can lead to sleep and appetite disturbance as well as other physical ailments like headaches.  Ever feel muscle tension in your neck and shoulders?  That can be stress!  Long-term physical and emotional problems like depression and anxiety can have unaddressed stress as a contributing factor. 

So, what can you do about it?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Take a break.  If you are always on the go, slow down.  Take time out of the day to sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.  Take a long bath or go on a walk.  Listen to music.  Sit in nature and absorb your surroundings.
  2. Practice deliberate relaxation.  Use meditation or relaxation techniques to intentionally care for yourself.  You can practice guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, or deep breathing.
  3. Be diligent about maintaining your overall health.  Get enough sleep.  Eat well and provide adequate nutrition for your body.  Exercise regularly!
  4. Do things you enjoy.  Find a pleasurable hobby and practice it.  Take time to be with friends and engage with others for support.
  5. Be sure to process your feelings.  We go through a lot in this life and it’s important to take time to process your experiences verbally- with a friend or a professional- or even in writing or art.  Journaling can be an excellent exercise in emotional expression and can foster increased insight into your feelings and behavior.
  6. If you notice overwhelming stress in your life, seek help.  We have behavioral health therapists at most of the HealthNet clinics ready to work with you through the stressful, difficult times we encounter.  Don’t be afraid use the resources you have!

I hope you found the above information helpful in maintaining an important part of your life- YOU!

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