Beginning Self-Care

Stress, sickness and unhappiness are often signs that you need to do a better job of taking care of yourself. After taking care of others for so long it can be difficult to figure out how to include yourself in the equation.

Why is everyone upset?

While you don’t need to wear a sign around your neck that says “I’m now taking care of myself”, fully expect that any tilt in the Me/You ratio could be met with some resistance if there isn’t some sort of conversation.  Often times, when I realize that I’m overwhelmed, it’s on the heels of an argument and, after that, who could blame the significant other for feeling a little insecure.

Even my daughter has been caught off guard with one of my announcements a time or two. Why? Because while I was slowly feeling more and more overwhelmed I didn’t say anything to anyone. As a matter of fact, I normally didn’t say anything until I’d had enough and that blow up wasn’t beneficial to anyone.

Even with a conversation, there may be some signs that you don’t have everyone’s buy in.  That’s to be expected as well. You allowing those around you to take care of themselves and lean on you less will be a learning experience for all involved. Simply remember that this isn’t punishment. Only with you taking some time out for you will you be able to continue to take care of all the things that require your attention.

While it shouldn’t matter how others take the news, if you care about them, you may feel bad if they don’t readily accept your decision. Once you believe what you’re doing is a positive move for everyone, it will be easier for you to stand your ground and stick to your guns. Taking care of other is inherent, taking care of ourselves must be learned.

Pay attention

For a long time I believed that if I didn’t come through for others, no one would.  What a huge burden it is to believe that if you don’t lend money, pickup or come through for someone else that their needs won’t be met.  Of course, children need us and there are times when due to illness or age others depend on us as well.  But we can’t operate in that capacity with everyone in our lives.  At least not without it eventually taking its toll on us.

In beginning self-care, I had to learn how to say “No”.  This isn’t a hard thing for many to say but it was very hard for me.  It was also the single most beneficial thing I did.  What I learned was while people would ask me to do things for them and I took the task very seriously, it was only a request.

When you and I ask others to do things for us we are hoping that they are able to come through. Yet when people ask us to do something, we never consider that we have the option to say “No”.  Instead, we move mountains to accommodate a “nice to have” thinking it’s a “need”.

The other thing I learned through saying “No” is if the request was truly a need the person had several other people lined up to ask if, by chance, I was unable to assist.  In essence, I may have been Plan A but there was a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C.

Through self-care, you’ll have the opportunity to see how well things turn out without your help.  People are stronger and more resilient that we give them credit for.

You’re not useless

As those around us learn to take care of themselves, tell you how much they enjoy it and lean on you less, you might begin to feel a little unneeded.  This can be expected.  Especially if, like me, you built your whole world around caring for others. So if you’re wondering what on earth you will do with no fires to put out, let me tell you, you’ll learn to be happy for them as they grow.  You’ll give them advice when they stumble upon an area they are unfamiliar with and you’ll learn to bask in whatever moments you have for yourself for as long as you can.

So before you undo all the hard work of gaining a few more hours out of your day for you, know that too much dependency isn’t healthy. We want people around us because they love us and need us in healthy ways, not because they are afraid of the alternative.

Self care

Now that you have some time to yourself, what will you do.  Well first, it might be a good idea to sort through some of your boundaries.  I, for one, had none.  Well, none that I’d ever mentioned.  Normally, I didn’t even know a boundary had been crossed until it happened.  Again, not fair to anyone.

We all need boundaries. Without lines in the street and driving laws you can imagine how chaotic our streets would be.  Our lives look just as accident prone when we haven’t setup boundaries.  When is it too late to call, are curse words acceptable and can I ask to borrow money can all be pretty common offenses but if you haven’t thought through how you want to handle these things, you might go along with something that rubs your fur the wrong way.

While it would be nice to have several hours to spend at the spa, a movie or even lunch with friends some times you’ll only be able to steal an hour here and there.  For me, 15 minutes of journaling is helpful with organizing my thoughts.  Writing in a notepad, especially for journaling, with a pen that you love is a great way to connect with yourself.  If you can fight the urge to critique your writing, I think you will find 15 minutes to be enough time to recharge.

Another 15 minute activity I’ve found to be helpful is meditating.  Sitting with a lit candle while concentrating on only the flame and my breathing has helped me focus on the now when future thoughts are tugging me forward.

Beginning self-care can be just as uncomfortable as any other beginning.  While there is a chance that things won’t go as well as expected, there’s also the chance that things could go better than expected.  Taking care of yourself is a decision you make alone but the improvement in your health and overall well-being will benefit you and everyone you love.

2 comments

  1. Great post. I enjoyed it. It hit the stop for me. I sometimes feel unneeded because my children are grown, but I could not be prouder of what they are doing with their lives. I am very blessed.
    This time has allowed me to find things that I like to do and discover myself again.

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