Sitting at a stop sign Friday afternoon with my mom, the sound of brakes locking up, tires skidding on pavement and the shriek of crunching metal. Smoke from burning rubber, automotive debris and white feathers filled the air. In that moment, I was reminded how short life could be.
Fortunately, no one was severely injured in the wreck.
Whether you suffer from a mental health disorder or you care for someone who does, self-care is vital. When most people think of self-care, they think of eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. Not to say these things aren’t important, they are, but we can follow the proper guidelines of nutrition, exercise and rest and still feel crappy. Why?
You need to go deeper. Take some time to replenish your soul. Feed your inner self. Really look into yourself and find what is out of balance. What lies that hurt you have you been treating as truths? We all have at least one. My biggest is believing I’m not good enough, that I’ll never measure up. Some days, I feel I will always be second string.
Every time I think of doing something nonessential for myself, I feel guilty. You, too? Seems like most of us do. We need to get over that guilty feeling and fast. If you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to take care of someone else?
Self-care will be different for each of us. It’s about listening to yourself—your body, mind and feelings—and fulfilling your needs. Your needs will be different from mine. When you are used to taking care of everyone else, it can be hard to discover what your needs are. Take a little time for yourself and think about it. Make a wish list. Be as wild with your wishes as you want. Review them and figure out which ones are most important to you. Make them come true.
Create boundaries. Protect your energy, your time and your self-worth. Don’t forget that “No.” is a complete sentence. Take time to experience joy. Remember the innocent laughter of childhood? The feeling of complete happiness? Aim for that feeling. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Be your best self. Who we are at the center of things, our core values, usually stay the same, but as we grow and experience new things, as we live, the way we express those values may change. We are constantly recreating ourselves—physically, mentally, emotionally. Take time for some selfcare so you can be your best self.
Self-care is hard. It takes time. It takes looking into some dark corners under the surface of ourselves that may be easier to ignore. It comes down to doing what’s best for you and that sometimes means putting yourself before others. Guilt can be pervasive. Push past it. Dive deep into yourself and discover what you need to take care of YOU.
Until next time, remember to breathe.
GLENDA THOMPSON is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express and is currently writing an A-Z series on Mental Health. Glenda is not a doctor, therapist, mental health expert or medical professional, therefore, you should not use these columns as medical advice. Glenda resides in Charlotte where she is hard at work on the second novel in a series about Texas Rangers with dark secrets.