Welcome to Self-Care Sundays! I will be doing a series of blogs to explore concepts of Self-care and personal development. Practicing Self-care should not be confused with being 'selfish'. Self-care should focus on being Self-centered (balanced mental, physical, and emotional health).
In high school SAT exams were upcoming and my classmates were talking about how stressed they were. Our teacher offered the class an opportunity to do guided meditation. We did the whole breathe in, breathe out exercise and with every exhale, I realized how tense I actually was. To my surprise, something as simple as breathing made me relax. I think that was one of the first times I realized that stress can be managed. Everyone around me had some kind of stress or worry. I’d always taken stress as being a part of life. I didn’t know you could do anything about it. I thought you just ‘dealt with it’ (read: suffered through it) until ‘this, too’ passed.
I now know that ‘waiting for it to pass’ is also known as avoidance. Avoidance had been my go-to coping mechanism, but then I would get triggered and then the anxiety would show up bigger and badder than ever. When life would give me a lemon, I would chuck to the bottom of the fruit bowl. Then one day I’d look and see that not only had the lemon hardened and become moldy, but now the mold had spread to my other fruit. What I should have done when I received the lemon was make lemonade. If I really wanted to be fancy I could have used the lemon marinated my dinner and thrown it in the compost to eventually be used as fertilizer for my garden.
I’m not even joking to say when I felt stressed I would just go to sleep. First chance I got, I was going to take a nap or go to bed at like 8pm. Going to sleep was just a temporary fix, because surprise, surprise when I awoke…the stressor was still there. A therapist later told me it’s a thing… Some people go to sleep as a coping mechanism for stress.
Going to therapy helped me develop better coping mechanisms, discover my triggers, and recognize my power. I have always sought counsel from my elders and I vent to my support system, but sometimes I need a (professional) therapist. I highly recommend therapy to anyone that is working on their mental health.
Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. They are each so intricately intertwined that it is difficult to separate them. I’m glad the stigma is being removed from mental health. I wasn’t taught to believe that therapy is bad, per se, just that it wasn’t really necessary. As a kid, the only people I saw in real life or in movies were people whose issues were debilitating usually stemming from a trauma of some kind. I felt like my stress was trivial in comparison. It took me a while to break the habit of going to counseling only when I was at wit’s end. The fact I thought my ‘stress-triggered narcolepsy’ was okay, shows you how normalized stress was for me.
I try to have a positive outlook on life so my tone is typically a positive one. All of those motivational posters that teachers hung up in classes really stuck with me. There is very little that I don’t think is possible, so please excuse me if my tone is too optimistic.
These blogs are written after situations have resolved themselves. I find it hard to hold on to ‘negative’ emotions about situations that are over. It may seem like stress management makes it seem like a walk in the park…it’s not. It takes a lot of effort and even more honesty. I still have anxiety, fear, anger and all of the other ‘bad’ emotions. I can’t say that I will ever not feel these emotions but I know that I can manage how they affect me. I can manage how I react to stressors.
Everyone has their own stress tolerances and triggers so there isn’t a panacea. Some
There are several techniques that I use to deal with stress.
Stress management is a form of Self-care that can be practiced daily.
Okay whew... glad I got that off my chest. I'll see you guys later as it's Sunday and I have things to do....
Until next time,