When you hear the phrase “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others”, what reaction do you have? You may think, “I don’t have time for that” or laugh and say, “Good one, Elise”. You may logically understand and agree with it while your body becomes tense.
Regardless of your reaction, it’s safe to say that self-care can be hard, uncomfortable, and often tossed aside as unimportant. Yet, it’s one of the best habits and tools we can develop for ourselves to live a healthy, fulfilling, and connected life.
The Importance of Self-Care
Think of yourself as a bucket that constantly fills and empties. When you do things that energize, center, and realign yourself, you're filling that bucket. Neglecting these things empties it. Someone with a "full bucket" is more patient, empathetic, and kind. Those with an "empty bucket" are quicker to become irritated and frustrated while having less tolerance and patience for others.
Filling our buckets and taking intentional care of ourselves produces self-confidence, empowerment, and self-esteem by recognizing our needs and meeting them. We are increasing our resources and ability to handle life’s constant stressors.
That’s great Elise but…
There are infinite reasons why we don’t practice self-care. It can feel like another thing we have to add to our already long to-do lists so it does not become a priority and moves to the very bottom. Our identity is also partially formed by how we provide and care for others, and taking care of ourselves can feel as though we’re being selfish, but that’s the complete opposite of healthy self-care!
So where do I start?
Start simple. Build self care exercises into routines that are already established in your day so
that it’s not another thing you have to find time for. Here are some ideas to get you started:
HALT. When we feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, self-care can help prevent us from snapping at our children, tuning out our spouse, or lashing out on our coworkers. Identify and communicate when HALT is controlling your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Breathe. One of the quickest ways to center, calm, and energize ourselves is to pause and take a couple of deep breaths. This can help relax our muscles, lower blood pressure, strengthen our lungs and heart, and increase our oxygen supply. Inhale through your nose for about 5 counts, hold the breath for a moment, and exhale through your mouth for a count longer than the inhalation.
Practice incorporating these building blocks of self-care into your daily life, and check in next
month for more advanced self care ideas! You’re worth taking care of yourself.
"Children are perceptive sponges! Lead by example."- lori cull-deshmukh
Does your child….
Anxiety is often confused with behavior problems. When it comes to young children, anxiety tends to manifest as changes in behavior. These changes can be subtle and hard to detect at first, but over time they snowball.
Anxiety is a natural reaction to stress. Some anxiety is actually good for us. It can protect us and keep us safe. Anxiety, however, can become a problem when excessive worry interferes with normal
daily living. For children, it’s important to pay attention to changes at school and at home.
Where To Start
If you are unsure about your child’s behaviors, keep a log and look for patterns.
Information about the episodes that could be helpful are:
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety in children can present in many different forms. In addition to behavior
outbursts, here are some more common symptoms:
How to Support Your Child
Anxious feelings are part of growing up. Children will be in unfamiliar situations where they learn ways for dealing with situations and others. This is how children learn social and emotional skills that will assist them throughout their life. The goal is to help your child manage anxiety. If you suspect that your child’s anxiety is mild, taking these steps may help:
Finally…and most important
Children are perceptive sponges! Lead by example and show them ways you cope with anxiety. Let them hear and see you manage calmly, tolerating a situation and feeling good about getting through it.
interfere with his or her normal daily living, seek an evaluation from a licensed mental
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW
Child and Family Therapist
"To be accessible means to be available for your partner, both physically and emotionally." - James Mcmillian
Are you A.R.E in Your Relationship
Sue Johnson, founder of Emotion Focused Couple Therapy, describes the need to be Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged (A.R.E) in loving relationships. Just as children become anxious or withdrawn when their parents aren't accessible, responsive, or engaged, spouses and partners find themselves in the same state of concern and feelings of disconnection emerge. As I have worked with couples in marriage counseling, I often see these as three areas that can be nurtured in the relationship.
To be accessible means to be available for your partner, both physically and emotionally. If you physically are never around then distance can grow between you and your partner. This can be through long hours at work, long distances between partners, or different interests or responsibilities pulling each in different directions. Sometimes children can even put an emotional distance between partners. If you find yourself in a time of your life where it is difficult to be physically accessible, try to find ways to counter balance the time away. If you have long hours during the week are you still able to spend time of the weekends? Are you able to call during the day or at night? Can you take a random day off together? When situations make this difficult it is important to be creative.
Emotional distance can be even more detrimental than physical distance. Are you willing to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner, or does it feel like you aren't even there even though you are in the same room? Being emotionally accessible means there needs to be a level of vulnerability and a willingness to share with your spouse what you might not share with anyone else.
When I think of situations where a spouse is not responsive, the picture that immediately comes to mind is of one spouse watching TV or playing on their phone while the other is venting about their day. It is like talking to a brick wall. Or where one spouse is deeply involved in a book, or a project, or anything that distracts from the person next to them who is crying out to be heard. Responsiveness is a must in relationships. If a partner isn't responsive then that thing that is distracting them is perceived to be more important than their partner. I have heard time and again that "___ is more important than me." Fill in the blank. We have so many things in society that can distract us from genuine relationships and interactions. To make committed and loving relationships work we must set priorities, and our spouse must know that they are at the top of that priority list.
Are you a passive observer of your marriage or an active participant? Being engaged in a relationship means to be active and involved, to go out of your way to reach out to your partner and ask about their day. To make plans for the weekend or to help plan your next trip. When you leave in the mornings to make a point of kissing goodbye and when you come home to make your partner the first person you greet. This sounds easier than it is. We get consumed with our jobs, chores, and routine of the day. We get stressed about money and children. We have so many responsibilities that pull at us that we can sometimes lose sight of our relationship and investing the time to keep it healthy. If you aren't engaged in your relationship then it is like having a pet that you never feed...the relationship will eventually starve.
When reflecting on your relationship ask yourself the questions posed above and find where you can actively work to improve. These aren't the silver bullet of healthy relationships, but without them you will likely find yourself and your partner slowly growing apart. They are the foundation of a healthy relationship.
James McMillian, MA, LPC, NCC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness