Admit it. We are all worn out after very busy times, including the holidays. After all the running around we do, it’s no wonder we are exhausted. Women are already twice as likely to experience depression than men. The rate of anxiety is even higher. According to the July 2016 Journal Brain and Behavior, this is the result of many factors. On top of juggling multiple responsibilities and roles, women have different brain chemistry and have to deal with hormone fluctuations. Also, women tend to cope with stress differently. The hormone fluctuations are the kicker.
This made me realize just how amazing and resilient women are. However, many women tend to put others first and neglect their own needs. This often leads to something called Compassion Fatigue. More women struggle with this than care to admit.
People that suffer from Compassion Fatigue tend to be caretakers, healers, moms, business professionals, and leaders. Another name for Compassion Fatigue is Secondary PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) or Secondary Trauma. Like most women, I try to help everyone I meet. I try to be a super mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, therapist, maid, chauffeur, etc. I work full time and volunteer at my children’s schools. I drive back and forth to school, work and practices. I do my best to cook and eat healthy meals. It can be a struggle to keep an attractive yard and an empty sink. I have been known to beat myself up if I can’t keep my house sparkling or the laundry baskets from overflowing. I too have felt worn out and tired, like I have nothing left to give.
How can we fight off the black hole of depression and anxiety? We have to start by recharging ourselves. I often use a car analogy with my clients. We don’t drive our cars on empty. You must fill it up every week, yet we run ourselves dry, until we are depleted and worn out. We take better care of our cars than we do of ourselves. It is bound to take its toll after a while. I have to remember what I tell my clients. Self-care is not optional. It is essential.
So, the next time you are feeling defeated, like you just want stay in bed and watch Netflix all day. Ask yourself. When is the last time I did some self-care? When is the last time I did something for myself? When is the last time I loved myself enough to do something about it? Don’t wait until you have worn out your wings. Just take an hour a week, just take twenty minutes. Instead of saying “I don’t have time”, try saying “I’m not a priority”. How does that feel? I know I would rather feel like a priority.
Here’s a list of 5 things you can do. These are just to get you started. Setting the intention is the key.
1. Treat yourself with kindness.
Treat yourself with the same kindness you would a dear friend. Spend some time in nature. Eat your favorite food. Take a soothing bath.
2. Do things that make you feel good even if you don’t feel like it.
Getting started is the hardest part. Once you make the effort, it may help the depression move along. Play music, read, watch a funny TV show or movie. Play with a pet. Call or go out with friends.
3. Do something creative.
Make something for someone you care about. Draw a picture or write. Go out in nature to get inspired. Being creative can even include visiting a museum or just taking a walk inside your favorite craft store.
4. Work on challenging your negative thinking.
Don’t believe those negative thoughts in your head. Practice replacing your negative thoughts with positive affirmations. There are many apps available now with ready-made affirmations. You can even record yourself and listen to them over and over to make them more effective.
5. Reach out and stay connected to supportive people.
Asking for help demonstrates strength. Call up a friend or someone you feel supports you. If a friend or family member is not available there are many 24/7 hotlines with people waiting to talk or just listen. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
We cannot keep running our bodies into the ground. Our bodies were meant to carry our beautiful souls. Yet most of us use our souls to drag our body around. Take better care of yourself than you do your car! Get a massage, get a pedicure, or color! Go out to lunch with a friend, blow some bubbles, or take a relaxing bubble bath. There are so many little things you can do. It doesn’t have to be something big. I think just setting the intention that you are doing self-care, that you are doing something loving for yourself, will do a world of good. It is not selfish, it is necessary. Just like they say on the airplane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
If you keep flying on broken worn out wings you will have nothing left. And if you have nothing left to give, how will you help others? Instead of constantly pouring from your own cup, fill yourself up so much that you are overflowing. Stop running on empty. If you take care of yourself, you will have so much more to give. Your family, your friends, your clients, and your children will be grateful. This doesn’t just apply to caretakers, teachers, healers, and moms. It doesn’t even apply just to women, it applies to each and every one of us.
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