A Peer’s Perspective: Self Care Conversation
By Jill Davis
Self-care has been a challenge for me and a number of people that I have spoken with over the years. While it’s an essential part of balancing both our physical and mental well-being, it is definitely one area that many put off or just don’t even attempt. I have heard (and used, truth be told) feedback such as “I’m just too busy”, “it’s just selfish to take time for me” and even “I can’t afford to”. Well friends, I’d like to offer that we truly can’t afford NOT to, and share what I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!).
You have a friend over for a visit. You’ve baked some of your ‘world-famous’ snickerdoodle cookies and you’ve made some refreshing sweet tea. There’s a playlist of songs that have some nostalgia for you both, and when together time just stands still. Sounds great so far! As the afternoon progresses, you have snacked, laughed, reminisced and finished the tea. Your friend asks if you have any more as they offer you the glass. You hold the empty pitcher and attempt to refill their beverage. Well, as you may have guessed, not a drop comes out no matter how much you try. Much to your chagrin, you are out of everything you need to make more and try as you may, the pitcher remains empty. Well, this is a bit of a situation, isn’t it? The only way that more is going to come out of that pitcher is if you replenish the supply. Can you see the connection?
Life is just packed with work, caregiving, parenting, housecleaning, paying bills, being with friends and family and anything else that fills our time and attention. It’s exhausting to say the least! Are you at the point of being just like that empty pitcher, still trying to pour out to others and not replenishing your supply? If so, I imagine that you are, like I have been, ready to crash and burn.
It is vital to carve time out of the busyness for yourself. This may mean creating healthy boundaries by sometimes saying no. The alternative is more of the status quo. As a single parent, I used to think that it was selfish to not end up on the back burner. Here’s what I learned: if I didn’t carve out time for myself, I not only was offering them a lesser version of myself, I was also not modeling this for them. I had to chuckle recently when I looked to spend time with my teenaged daughter and her respectful response was “I’m having me time, is that ok?” Seems like I have taught her well!
On an airplane, flight attendants give instructions about the oxygen masks, noting that it’s important to place the mask first over your own mouth and nose before placing it over those children next to you. Why is that? Because without first taking care of ourselves, we are no good to those that rely on us. Great parallel there!
Even though it might not always feel like it, you are so worth the time and effort and care that you so generously lavish on others! I’d like to challenge you to make time for self-care over the next few days, whatever that may look like. A few extra minutes in the bath? Fishing? Hiking? Rest? What will make you a better you?
Jill Davis is Peer Services Coordinator for Mind Springs Health. She or any one of our peers are happy to converse about self-care and how to be mentally healthy anytime. Drop her a line at Peers@MindSpringsHealth.org