I am very stressed. After 7 years of studying psychology, working as a therapist, and now being a life coach, I am experiencing all of this stress. I have a plethora of tools in my toolbox, know what works for me, and am actively using what I know—and, I am still stressed!
However, there is good news. I’m not stressed every minute. In some ways, I actually feel empowered. I’m practicing more gratitude and stopping to appreciate things in my life more. These have not happened by accident; they have happened with awareness and intention! They are also flags for resilience!
Don’t get me wrong—those who know me closely can definitely tell I am stressed sometimes or having a rough time. After all, I am a person and not a magical life coach with the emotion systems of my brain removed. Sometimes I need more “alone” time. Sometimes I need more support. Sometimes I need to vent and "get it all out." Sometimes I just want to enjoy what I’m doing in the moment and not think about the challenges. These are some of the more obvious ways that I “deal.”
Then there's the not-so-obvious approaches I'm taking. What am I doing, “behind the scenes”, to be attacking my challenges more than I feel like they’re attacking me? What’s the mental work I’m putting in to prevent me from feeling so overwhelmed that I’m immobilized? What am I saying to myself to help me feel empowered? How am I more grateful now, during a storm, than during the calm?
For many people, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of how single we are and what we don’t have. Starting mid-January, walking by the holiday section in the grocery store can trigger those “Ugh, this time of year” thoughts. Following are the announcements of exclusive couple events for V-day, ads for flowers, and eventually the day of the 14th. This isn’t eloquent, but: it can sorta suck.
We hear it all the time: eat well, get enough rest, exercise.
How often do we prioritize these self-care habits and give them the attention they are due? How often do the environments in our lives—and people—respect the boundaries we must assert to regularly eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise?
Eating healthy, sleeping well, and exercising often come at the expense of other things our lives: working an extra hour, a social activity, a house that is constantly tidy, spending time with your significant other, time on social media, etc. Self-care will come last, or as it is convenient, unless you choose to put if first and work in other demands and responsibilities around it.
At what point did it become okay to not feed yourself because of working? Go sleep deprived because of x, y, or z? Neglect your body and mental health because of a hectic schedule? There will always be life demands to interfere with taking care of yourself—if you let them!
Ironically, by setting limits, learning how to say “No,” and making time for self-care, we show up in a more productive and constructive way for the demands in our life—and we’re able to enjoy them more. Quality of life starts with the basics.