The purpose of this month's column is to focus on you, the reader, and the fact that as a result of the pandemic, many of you might be overwhelmed with fear, anger, resentment, shame and guilt. You may feel zapped of emotional and physical energy. And it's not uncommon to develop physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia and stomach aches. You may feel helpless and hopeless. You may have stopped feeling happiness.
This is where I would like you to take a moment and remember to take care of yourself.
I totally understand that you might roll your eyes at the thought. In fact, I can just hear you saying, "You want me to do something enjoyable for myself when my world is crumbling around me?!" Yes, actually. And we aren't the only ones.
According to mental health professionals, self-care increases positive emotions like joy, gratitude, hope and serenity. Fact is that when people increase their daily diets of positive emotions, they find more meaning and purpose in life. They also find that they receive more social support — or perhaps they just notice it more, because they're more attuned to the give-and-take between people. They report fewer aches and pains, headaches, and other physical symptoms. They show mindful awareness of the present moment and increased positive relations with others. They feel more effective at what they do. They're better able to savor the good things in life and can see more possible solutions to problems. And they sleep better.
Basic fact is: When you feel better and more optimistic, you're better able to handle things. You can think, plan and act more effectively. You're able to use your best judgment and problem solve better — which is so important, because when you feel depleted from your child's struggle, it's easy to react and make snap decisions instead of taking time to think things through.
In addition, self-care can make you more resilient, meaning you can adapt and roll with life's ups and downs better, without falling into despair or getting angry when your child has a setback.
So allow me to put it as simply as I can: You need to take care of yourself too because you've got to stay strong; you've got to be stronger than others -- Because if you don't, how are you going to help them when they need you?
Self-care allows you to model healthy behavior and coping skills for partner and your children. For example, if you come home from work, tell your family members that it was a really stressful day and then go for a walk or take a hot shower to relax, you are modeling a healthy way to deal with life's challenges.
Give it a try. Take a break from worrying. Try infusing your life with something positive on a daily basis for the next week.
Treat yourself to a cup of coffee with a friend, assuming that is plausible, buy some fresh flowers, light a candle, take a walk in nature, spend 10 minutes doing a puzzle, take a yoga class, listen to a podcast, read a book. Go for a run, cook your favorite meal, watch a funny movie or take a long, hot bath.
Please remember that Self-care can look different to everyone. Seek out whatever it is that you enjoy doing that will fortify your mind, body and soul.
Living in panic mode isn't healthy or helpful. You can't afford not to take care of yourself.
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash