Often times when we talk to people about self-care, they are quick to say that they don't have time or they aren't sure what to do. We've also heard that's it's too costly, thinking that self-care means paying for an expensive massage, manicure or pedicure...now, don't get me wrong, those are nice self-care tools, however, self-care doesn't have to cost any money, can be done in less than 5 minutes, and it's all in your mind!
Instructions: Choose a quiet place, if able. Lay down or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Place your hands to your side. Either have someone read the script below and close your eyes, or keep your eyes open, read to yourself, and imagine in your mind.
"I'd like you to take 3 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. You are breathing from your diaphragm, not your chest.
Imagine that you are on a beach. You are sitting on your towel and you scoot yourself to the edge of the towel. You take off your shoes or...
Why do we always find a way to ignore what we need? We usually fall dead last when it comes to our mental wellbeing. As I contemplate the present, which is the strangest of times, I realize that we do not have the ability to continue on like this unless we want to pay for it with our health. Yes, that is what I said. There is a direct correlation between our mental and physical health.
As we've all experienced, COVID has brought much angst, potential sadness or depression, anxiety, and loss in many ways. However, what else has COVID brought us...aspects that have been more positive...and what would life be like without it.
Sure, we can certainly focus on if COVID was not part of our lives then we would not be trapped in our houses most of the time, be able to eat out at restaurants or go out and do more sociable activities, our kids would be in school full time and wouldn't be behind in their studies, our mood would be better, and most importantly many people would not have suffered the unthinkable losses of lives.
But we can't change that COVID happened and is still here.
So I choose, with my glass 1/2 full, to focus on what positive things I would be losing out on if COVID didn't happen. If COVID didn't happen to me, I would:
1. only be spending time with my kids primarily on the weekends.
2. not have discovered new tools for my self-care regimen in...
Let me put a thought in your mind...
"Self-care is a preventative approach."
Typically self-care is in reference to managing stress, dealing with depression and anxiety, lowering agitation, etc. Often it's used when someone is at their wits end, when they are burnt out and looking for a miracle relief, or they are in the throws of mental anguish and looking for relief.
Self-care should not be used when it's too late, when your 'cup is empty'. It should be used on a regular basis with the purpose to prevent such reactions from happening. Therefore, we recommend scheduling your self-care 'sessions' into your daily calendar. Is that 30 minutes when you get up, 15 minutes before you go to bed, or an hour at lunch - we recommend starting with 15 minutes at a time and working your way up to an hour a day.
You may be saying to yourself, "Girl, you are crazy! I have so much going in my life - work, e-learning with my kids, a husband/wife, a dog, cooking, cleaning - I don't have time...
I have a friend who came to me recently. She is a reputable professional, seemingly having it all together via social media. I sometimes will see posts of her always ready for a picture with her children, perfect meal and table settings, her hair and makeup are always on point, and she has an extremely successful business career. To say the least, it makes me feel less than a lot of the time. I am lucky, some days, if I remember to brush my teeth before I stand outside with my kids for the bus talking to another mom. Social media can make us envy other's situations, feel unworthy, or that we simply are not up to par on everyday routines. And then, she stopped by the house to chat.
Self-care activities are something talked about a lot but often times we preach about using them for others or we recommend others to use them. Well, what about us? We are just as important to that puzzle as the person we are preaching to about using them.
Picture yourself on an airplane. Before every departure, a flight attendant walks you through the safety features and rules of the airplane. One of those instructions are about the oxygen masks that may drop down if the cabin loses air pressure. The instructions explicitly say, "Secure your mask before securing others." Let's apply that to life, folks!
"If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to show up for others," says Dr. Stelter. Self-care activities allow you to replenish, unwind, recharge...all of the above. Popular self-care activities include journaling, using essential oils, exercising, gardening, cooking, deep breathing techniques, and meditation. Which ones help relieve your stress, anxiety,...
With times being what they are, I have had some time to reflect on how life has changed. It can be difficult to deal with everyday life. When so many changes come at one time, it can be challenging to keep our spirits up. Some of us will seek out help, some of us will not. You are not alone. You are not without tools. There are many non-pharmacy approaches to mood management. I use essential oils.
The obvious about using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques for mood issues or behavioral concerns is that the person receiving these are not faced with experiencing many side effects with the potential to cause more problems when taking medications instead. For example, if I'm anxious and I take an anti-anxiety medication, sure I might feel less anxious, however, I may also become unproductive that day, sleep more than usual, and then feel irritable and even more anxious as it wears off. Reason being, I haven't actually dealt with what caused my anxiety in the first place! Now, in the event the person is taking medications, even reaching for coping tools or the caregiver using non-pharmacological approaches will reduce the amount of or chances for side effects if PRN, or as needed, medication was being used on top of their routine medication regimen.
However, there are two other bonuses to regularly using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques:
"I'm having difficulty sleeping, doc." Robert's physician prescribed a sleeping aide so Robert can sleep better at the long-term care facility he resides. Then, Robert starts to feel irritable in the morning when he awakes. Subsequently, he is prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to take in the morning and as needed. Roberts starts taking the anti-anxiety medication and then starts to feel more sleepy during the day, less productive and motivated, groggy, and having difficulty concentrating. He's isolating more in his room and not spending time doing the things he used to like to do. And because he is sleeping more during the day, he isn't sleeping much at night, even though he continues to take the sleep aide that his physician prescribed. He lets his physician know that he has been sleeping more than usual, not as sociable as he used to be, is having difficulty concentrating, and unmotivated. His physician then prescribes Robert an anti-depressant...When does it stop?!
"Betty was having a particularly tough afternoon. As the hours wore on, she started to become agitated with the people around her. She was wandering with an angry look, cursing, unwilling to listen, and trying to push people away if they became physically close. Betty repeated to herself, 'I want to go home; I want to go home.'
I stepped in to help calm Betty and prevent any further escalation. Approaching Betty gently, I presented myself in a calm manner with a smile on my face. I spoke to Betty in a calm, monotone voice. I played soothing sounds, used a lavender essential oil blend aromatically, and gave her a light touch so she knew that she was safe. Betty calmed down within minutes and even wanted to spend more time together."
Betty lived in a memory care facility. Appealing to Betty’s senses helped to deescalate the moment (visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile stimulation) and made her feel calm, while it made me feel confident and competent for helping her....