The topic of self care is trendy right now but there is much more to it than a bandwagon. Finally, an idea with more substance than ‘adulting’ or the apparently vital role Target plays in our lives. The new year brings high hopes, willingness to embrace change and goals, goals, goals! This year, after an extremely emotionally demanding 2016, my main goal is self improvement. This resolution was borne out of necessity. With my first baby arriving soon there is simply no choice to continue in the mental state I was in. Stress is not good for your growing baby so it is incredibly important to ensure you have a safe, stress-free and happy pregnancy. Taking time for yourself is easier said than done but if I could prevent even one person from feeling the strain I have felt then I would be content.
Whether your stress is a direct result of work, relationship issues, financial problems etc. it does not matter. The physical affects of stress on your developing baby can be detrimental to their mental health in years to come. Even at this point I feel a large amount of guilt for inflicting my sadness and worries onto my baby. Clawing your way out of a rut isn’t easy and casting aside fears is less so. With every kick and hiccup from inside I am reminded and determined to be the best version of myself. Both for the baby and for my own happiness. Sometimes you will come to realize that your expectations of support are nothing more than expectation and in that situation you must be everything you need by yourself.
“So what can I do to minimize stress?”
First of all, like any issue, recognize that you need help and be able to admit it. Even if only to yourself. Fortunately with self care, YOU can help you. All it takes is remembering be to intentional.
Self care practices range from the tiniest trivial activity to life altering decisions and you get to choose what is best for you. Nobody knows you better than yourself! Simply put, do more of the things you love, the things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. If that means taking a vacation or just putting on freshly laundered pjs then do it and do it solely for you.
As a highly sensitive and introverted person, time outs are a necessity for me. Unfortunately time away from the chaos doesn’t simply equate to positive, revitalizing me-time. I can often spend it in turmoil with a very messy, over analytical mindset. This serves me no purpose and adds to my woes. For self care to be legitimate and genuinely help you, you must be intentionally selfish and make it entirely about you.
These activities are so easy but we often ignore them. Sometimes we just need a little nudge! What are some of your favorite self care practices?
It’s funny how small actions or simple statements provoke such long-winded thoughts. Or maybe it’s just me. I truly believe in the existence of empaths, although some skeptical folk will scoff at the idea. I feel deeply. I am very sensitive to people, situations and when something feels off I can usually instantly come to the conclusion why, even if on the surface there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer. It’s borderline psychic sometimes and that in itself can be unsettling.
I recently trudged through US Pre-clearance (a wonderful affair where you clear immigration before entering the US!) in Dublin airport and one of the standard questions I was asked had me thinking for a large portion of my 9 hour flight.
“Ma’am did you carry your own bag today?”
I did carry my bag, of course. I didn’t need to be reminded of the huge bulky monstrosity I had just lugged through check in. In the past five years I’ve carried my fair share of heavy bags and I’m now aware that I have carried them mentally too which led me to think about how much weight on my shoulders could I drop off and not worry about?
Being empathetic involves a lot of worry and 80% of it never seems to be my own. I carry burdens for people who don’t seem to care about what they probably should care about. I carry burdens for friends and family suffering. I carry burdens for strangers I see on the news in sad or dangerous situations. So how do I prioritize my own?
As someone extremely perceptive and introverted, I dislike nothing more than to be labelled ‘too sensitive’. Sensitivity is not a dirty concept. Sensitivity creates connection and intimacy. Sensitivity allows for compassion and understanding. Sensitivity is a wide open channel for love. It doesn’t mean thin skin. It means deep strength but somewhere along the line we were all told it’s a pathetic sign of weakness. What I consider weak are those who run from problems. Those who abandon instead of stand up and care for someone. Those who allow a loved one to carry their problems while they shamelessly continue on their carefree path. Weak are those who laugh in the face of sensitivity and take advantage of it.
I’ve been through enough to want to give up a thousand times. Some days, I still want to but my empathy for others won’t allow it. I guess empathy is stubborn’s ‘over sensitive’ sister.
When something comes natural to you, it’s hard to deliberately stop doing it. For me, it is natural to worry for others and stress over things that are not mine to be concerned with. But who will worry for me? Shouldn’t I give myself the same courtesy I give to others and look out for myself? Everyone desires to be supported. There’s great confidence in being enveloped by unconditional support but it’s not always an option. Sometimes you have to be enough by yourself.
I implore those of you out there sinking under the weight of others’ baggage to shed that load and prioritize yourself. Especially if what you are carrying goes entirely unrecognized. For your health and your happiness, lay down the baggage and carry yourself.