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The Stress of "Self-Care" and Your New Year's Resolution

Posted January 6th, 2014 @ 02:01pm by: Macey Mueller

By Jill Hubble MSEd, LADC, LPC

I don't know about you, but until recently I was becoming burnt out on the term "self-care" and hearing about how I needed to practice it better. Phrases like "It is so important to practice good self-care!"; "What are you doing for self-care?"; "So, how are you going to take care of yourself?"; "What is your New Year's Resolution (because these are inevitably 'self-care' centered)?" are common these days. But sadly, I felt like reaching the ideal they promoted was an unattainable fantasy world, one where I provide myself such great self-care that I would become the perfect mother, wife, daughter, person and therapist. I found myself thinking about it All. The. Time. And you know what? It was stressing me out!

Before long, "self-care" had become a counterproductive catchphrase that made my life miserable until I attended a lecture by Samantha Zaid (Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director at St. Mary's University) at Headway's All Staff training meeting this past fall. Her lecture helped me realize that, HEY... I do practice good self-care! It may not be "Manicures, Pedicures and Massages" (all things that cost too much in these slow economic times), but somehow, my internal healthy person has figured out several ways to take care of myself emotionally. Yes, I should exercise more (when I do, I certainly feel physically and emotionally stronger and more resilient); eat better (it is amazing what green veggies can do for an overly stressed immune system); and sleep eight full hours a night (well, that one just might be a pipedream until the kids are done with college).

These things are the big, commonly promoted self-care methods, but there are several others smaller steps you are probably already taking that are just as important. Why? Because while humans tend to dwell on failure, what we need to do is acknowledge the little things we are doing right. That way, the BIG things seem less formidable and more attainable.

Which of these are you already doing? (note: they all qualify as self-care):

- Going to the doctor when you are ill

- Spending time with your children or other people's children (who you enjoy)

- Saying "no" (to people other than your children)

- Reading non work-related materials

- Asking for help

- Having lunch with a friend

- Listening to music in your car (without checking your phone)

- Daydreaming

- Going to a movie (or watching one at home)

- Drinking water

- Making your bed (most mornings)

If you're doing any these things, you are practicing self-care. Remember, life is busy. Self-care is really just another way of saying "slow down." It is not selfish to take time to clear your mind and reorient yourself so you can be efficient and effective.

So, when you are thinking about your New Year's Resolution (which will inevitably be about doing something that will make your life better), remember, the simpler you make it, the more attainable it is and the more likely you are to feel successful.

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