In the previous newsletter, I shared about the importance of self-care and 4 different types of it. Remember, self-care has nothing to do with being selfish, so no need to feel guilty. It is about recognizing your worth, your value, that you’re just as important as a meeting (actually, I believe you’re way more important than any meeting!).
And thanks for your comments and questions. I’m keeping them close as I lead up to Part 3 and beyond.
Today, let’s meet Pam (pseudonym). She called me on a 104 degree Monday afternoon saying she needed to see me right away; that she couldn’t take it anymore.
Self-Care: It’s Not Just Bubble Baths and Chardonnay (Part 2)
We met via my secure video platform. Pam is in her early 50’s but looks like in her early 40’s. She presents well and looks like she has it all together.
She’d told me she’d spent last Saturday afternoon literally sitting in her closet, crying, because “ I didn’t know what else to do”.
Pam said, “Dr. B., I know I first gotta get a handle on this stress or anxiety or whatever it is and then I know my life will start working again, I’ll be my old self again”.
I gently smiled, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Pam, I hear you. If you’re willing, let’s do something a little counterintuitive. Let’s work backwards on this and what I mean by that is, the first thing we need to do is NOT get a handle on stress or anxiety.
The first thing we need to do is to get a handle on you – take care of you. What I hear you telling me is that you’re going, going, doing and doing, for everybody except yourself. And this pandemic, it’s making it worse. You’re telling me that you feel guilty when you try to take time out for yourself. You know what it sounds like — you’re stretched thin, like butter, spread over too much bread.
I think it might be a good idea for us to start exploring what being there for you could look like. Let’s get a handle on that first and the stress and anxiety –they’ll start getting handled as we put some good self-care into place. What do you think?”
After Pam and I briefly discussed different types of self-care, Pam decided she wanted to start with spiritual self-care. She shared she used to consider herself a spiritual person, but lately, she’d lost touch with that too. From our talk, she chose solitary walks in her local park as a way to reconnect with herself.
So her homework was to start incorporating these walks, no kids, no dog-just herself and her mask (she might pass someone on the way and masking up is excellent self-care!). Research continues to show the benefits of being out in nature to calm the mind as well as calm the body.
She agreed to take 3 – ambitious – before our next session. To ensure she was able to follow through, we also came up with a new personal boundary and an assertive statement she’d use with her family when she was planning her alone (i.e. walk) time. She was excited and said, “This could actually work. I’m starting to feel better already”.
I’ll bet some of you are saying, “But this won’t work for me. I really need to do something about my stress and anxiety BEFORE I start working on myself. And going for walks, that’s just too simple”.
I’m gonna counter this and say, by working on yourself first, you’ve already started working on the stress and anxiety.
Because when you start, like Pam did, choosing and putting in place different types of boundaries (emotional self-care) and being more assertive (more emotional self-care), you’re already laid solid groundwork for decreasing the possible sources and symptoms of stress and anxiety in your life.
For example, when you say No and mean it (boundary/emotional self-care), you free up your time, energy, and possibly funds and can now use those where they’re most needed, which in turn gives you more freedom. We all want more freedom don’t we? What will yours look like?
That’s the question, because now, with more freedom, there’s a new void and since nature abhors a vacuum, you’ll probably want to fill it, but with what?
I’ll share some ideas to help you untangle this in the next newsletter. Stay tuned; your new life is waiting…
Be safe, be well