Today is the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. It has been a long May for me personally, with lots of waiting and lots of personal boundaries pushed. I have felt tons of pressure to always be present and always be helpful and it has left me feeling drained. Completely drained. That’s the life of a “helper” – there’s this crazy internal belief that says that I have so much to give that I’ll never run out. And while on one level, one may know that this is absurd and simply untrue, there’s another side that continues to OK the testing of your limits until you’re feeling so physically drained that you’re sick or you’re flipping out unexpectedly at some poor, undeserving (or maybe deserving but not that deserving) subject.
Self-care seems to be the hardest to do when you’re convinced that the whole world needs you to be on “100” all of the time. Self-care is the hardest to do when you are convinced that you must personally save the whole world. Admirable intent does not equal honorable action. In order for one to stay in the position to “help” one must first help oneself. This is the reason why on airplanes they ask that you place the oxygen mask on your face first and then attempt to be of help. Saving others is naught if you drown under the waves first.
While there are so many things that could be discussed on this last day of Mental Health Awareness Month 2017, I felt it was important to emphasize the importance of caring for oneself and how that does not make one selfish, rude, or lacking in care for others. In fact, if one is to truly love one’s neighbor as oneself, it is necessary to start with oneself.
So when you think of self-care, what comes to mind? For me, I used to think I had to buy something or do something grand in order to care for myself (and for some people, that is the case). However, self-care can be simpler than that. It can be setting a necessary personal boundary, saying “no” to over-extending oneself, intentionally setting affirmations about oneself and one’s life to state over and over until they become beliefs. Self-care can be deciding to leave work on time, listening to your favorite music over and over again, or meditating/doing yoga to start your day off. Self-care is whatever it is that you have to do that will put you in a better position emotionally, spiritually, or physically. It’s taking care to take care of you.
Mental Health America gave 31 tips for implementing self-care. These tips range from drinking a cup of coffee and getting a good night’s sleep to disconnecting from social media in order to do something fun face-to-face to fitting in some more foods rich with omega-3 fatty acids. These 31 tips are great every day, practical things cost little to no money and can give you just the boost you need in those moments.
Take a few minutes to check out these suggestions. What are your thoughts? How do you exercise self-care?