How To Listen To Your Body When Stressed

Guest Article: How To Listen To Your Body When Stressed

I know that you are worth it even if you don’t feel that way right now.

by Jennifer Pesetsky

Here’s what might be going on in your life right now.

  • You are going through a divorce
  • You are raising kids
  • You are caring for a special needs kid
  • You are caring for an aging parent
  • You are working full time+
  • Your household chores are seemingly endless
  • Finances are tight
  • You’ve left a job or were terminated from a job
  • You’ve been the victim of a crime

Do you have one or more of those things going on for you? I hear you.

You are going through some major life events and time is precious. Unfortunately, during times like these, self-care is often the first thing to fall off the priority list.

We need to turn this around and keep focusing on our self-care throughout life’s roller coaster. Read on for why this is important.

My hope is that by the end of this post, you will be encouraged to choose to create a sustainable self-care plan personalized for you that fits into your available time and budget. You are worth it.

Still with me? Great, let’s get started.

WHY DO I NEED TO DO SELF-CARE?

This is a great question. Some people are in the habit of putting other people’s needs before their own.

Here’s the deal:

  • You can’t pour from an empty cup.
  • You have to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
  • If you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t have capacity to take care of other people.

Do any of those resonate for you?

Without self-care, stress increases, fatigue increases, depression and anxiety increase, burnout increases, and sleep decreases (which leads to a whole host of other problems).

Then, to combat these ills, some people turn to unhealthy coping strategies like overusing drugs and alcohol.

It’s my bet that you want to be a good role model to the people who love you. Would you want your daughter/sister/niece to neglect her own daily needs?

To summarize, here’s why I think self-care is essential.

  • Self-care is essential to your health.
  • We are better able to care for others if we are cared for.
  • We are better able to make the impact we want in the world if we are cared for.
  • We want to be good role models for the people around us. If they see us taking care of ourselves, then they will be encouraged to do the same.

WHAT IS A SELF-CARE PLAN?

A self-care plan is a personalized, realistic, and actionable plan that you have in place so that you can take care of yourself regularly.

WHY DO I NEED A SELF-CARE PLAN?

You need a self-care plan to make it easy for you to take care of yourself regardless of what is going on in your life.

Here are some analogies. My husband is from Florida. When he was growing up, his family and neighbors would prepare for hurricanes as they were approaching. They would make a plan and know where their supplies were.

If you aren’t from a natural disaster area, here’s a different analogy. When you were nearing the end of your pregnancy, did you get together a bag of things you wanted to take to the hospital with you? Or, did you wait until your water broke and you were in active labor before thinking through what you wanted to bring to the hospital?

(A bit of an aside here. My husband and I didn’t have our hospital bags packed when we were pregnant with our daughter. There’s a good reason, and it’s a long story; I’ll get back to our main topic now.)

Having a self-care plan is similar. When you are in a time of stress, crisis, or transition, you don’t want to have to first develop your self-care plan before being able to use it. You want to have a plan in place that you have been working with for a while, so that it is easy for you to continue with the basic plan that you have established and scale up your self-care as needed to address the additional stress going on for you.

HOW DO I CREATE A SELF-CARE PLAN?

The first thing you need to establish is a proactive self-care plan.

What do you need to do, and what is practical for you to do, EVERY DAY in order for you to take care of your body, mind and spirit?

Here’s my list:

  • Help someone
  • Have a good night of sleep
  • Eat Healthy + Drink Water
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Make Something (do something creative)

The acronym I use to help me remember my self-care plan is HHEEMM – “I need to hem my husband’s pants.”

What proactive self-care do you need to do every day to keep yourself healthy? Your list is likely to be different from mine and that’s great! One person’s self-care strategy doesn’t work for everyone. This needs to be a personalized plan so that it is realistic for you.

Let’s break it down a bit. First, your proactive self-care plan needs to be full of the things that you need to do daily in order to be healthy and functional. So, you might enjoy getting a pedicure, but if you don’t require a pedicure daily, then this shouldn’t be on this list.

Next, your proactive self-care plan needs to be practical. Your list can’t be filled with items that are too costly or too time intensive to make it realistic for you to do daily.

OK, it’s your turn. Write your proactive self-care list down and work with it for a few days, and then re-evaluate. Are you able to get through your whole list each day? If not, do you need to change your list or remove some barriers in your life so that you can effectively get through this list.

Ready to get started? Remember, you are worth it.

Jennifer Pesetsky supports women going through perimenopause and menopause with self-care instruction and life coaching. Join her facebook group for Menopause Bosses – https://www.facebook.com/groups/menopauseboss/.

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