How To Take Care of Yourself When Your Life Is Unraveling
There must be some way to ease the pain. It needs to be stopped.
You used to love your job, now you can barely drag yourself to the office each day.
You constantly feel pulled in a million directions.
There is a heavy invisible weight pulling you down.
You are exhausted all the time and can’t figure out how to fix it.
What Is Going On?
It could be depression. You may be suffering from burnout. It could be mental and physical exhaustion.
Whatever it is, it’s taking a toll.
Feelings like these, plus an endless list of others are often the result of stress overload, the inability to relax or ease the pain, and extreme anxiety. All of which result from trying to be everything to everyone all the time.
As a woman, you do your best to excel at multiple roles — wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, career woman, caregiver, and friend. In the process, you can lose yourself.
You Don’t Want to Disappear Completely
But . . . what can you do? There is hardly time to breathe, let alone enough time to take care of yourself.
You aren’t even sure what taking care of yourself means.
There are articles in abundance on self-care with suggestions like getting a manicure and pedicure, having your hair cut and styled, or going on a shopping spree.
No doubt, those things would be nice and would make you feel better for a while, but would they ease the pain long-term? You need to know how to relieve the pressure that comes from being a woman trying to do everything that is expected of her.
Set Safety-Valves to Prevent Implosion
To take care of yourself, you must set safety valves that will relieve the pressure and ease the pain so you don’t continually feel like your head is going to explode.
To help you out, I want to share five practices that get results and cost nothing but dedicated time.
You should use them often — daily, weekly, or anytime the need arises.
1. Give Yourself a Daily Gift
Get in the habit of taking15 minutes for yourself (by yourself) at least once a day — more often, if possible — to relax, empty your mind, and breathe.
A few minutes of solitude is a great way to refresh your mind, body, and spirit.
Enjoy your morning coffee outside as the sun begins to rise while you listen to the birds twitter and chirp in the trees. Or, stand quietly on the back porch or balcony to watch the sunset each evening.
Take a quiet break when you need it. Go outside, sit on a bench, close your eyes, and soak up the sunshine as you let your mind relax. It is a lovely way to take care of yourself when you can’t seem to think straight.
These moments of solitude communing with nature can break the pattern of frenzy that sometimes overwhelms you.
I crave for the balm of Nature, the anodyne of solitude, the breath of Mother Earth. –Robert W. Service
2. Enjoy the Language of the Soul
Movement to music is a natural expression of feelings that come from the mind and body’s connection to rhythm. It is a common thread among all cultures.
Dancing frees the mind as it flows and bends with the music. The movement is all there is. Nothing else matters. It is impossible to worry or fret when you are moving freely to sounds that stir your soul.
If you can let yourself dance freely, without hesitation, when music touches your core, feelings of relief and joy will begin to spread in your body.
Create dancing playlists on your phone, find the perfect station on iHeart radio, pick a music channel on your TV, find your favorite artists on YouTube, or for us old-timers, play your favorite CDs.
Young or old, dancing is amazing, even in your own living room. Don’t be shy, jump up and dance when you hear a great song on a TV Commercial, I do it all the time.
Make it a habit to give yourself the pleasure of dancing like no one is watching! It is a lovely way to take care of yourself and ease the pain. Enjoy the moment and know that you deserve the break.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul. –Martha Graham
3. Go Silent
Our “devices” have become an extension of ourselves, which makes it difficult to disconnect and be silent, but we must!
It seems there is such a thing as “disconnectivity anxiety,” It is a growing problem described as “a persistent and unpleasant condition characterized by worry and unease caused by periods of technological disconnection from others.” In order words, when Twitter or Facebook go down, people panic.
Enjoy a weekly digital detox. The traditional Christian “day of rest” is a good model. Every Sunday 7 to 7 — disconnect yourself from all electronic devices — TV, tablet, computer, phone, game box, and any other new gadget you may have found.
Let everyone know that Sunday is your “digital day of rest.” If they need you, they can leave a message, which you will pick up later.
If there is an emergency, good friends and family know where you live, anything else can wait until Monday.
This will probably be the most challenging suggestion to implement, but it will be worth every ounce of energy and self-discipline required to make it happen.
Use the disconnected time doing whatever you want — read, sleep, play the piano, paint, work out at the gym, go on a hike, go swimming, sit in the sun, play with your dog, and spend time with friends or family (but they must also disconnect if they are with you).
Play with your kids or grandkids, hand-write letters to old friends, play basketball, play cards or games (no electronics — only the old-fashioned versions allowed), make cookies or candy, or go on a picnic — the choices are endless.
Of course, you can always choose to do nothing – a favorite of mine.
Just remember — no devices can be turned on or kept near you during your day-of-rest.
Disconnecting is a must if you want to take care of yourself in today’s techno-crazy world.
The goal is to reconnect with real life and find magic in living.
Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. –Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Develop Your Own Disappearing Act
Leave the situation that is pressing you down. Get away from it all; be alone for as long as you need. It will give you time to breathe, release the pressure, and ease the pain in your mind and body.
If you live near the beach, in the mountains, or in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, take a long walk.
Even in Manhattan, it is possible to escape by walking the busy streets.
Driving is also a good choice — especially if you like to drive. A long drive in the country is lovely, but any drive will work — no destination is needed. The only recommendation is to choose a route that has as little traffic as possible.
If you live in a busy metropolis, drive to a peaceful place like a local park and sit until you are ready to go back to your life.
Choose a method of escape for a while that works for you and don’t return until you feel like it.
Try not to think, worry, problem-solve, or rehash questions in your head. Listen to music, or not — whichever helps you relax. Some prefer complete silence, some classical music, and some soft jazz. (Hard, loud, angry music is not recommended.)
If you have an extremely busy mind — think about good things, visualize beautiful, quiet places that relax you, Or, if possible—create a blank space in your mind or visualize a panorama of swirling colors.
The purpose of a disappearing act is to let your mind rest and give your spirit a break.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more
― Lord Byron
5. Become Your Own Therapist
On of the best therapy tools I know is writing. You don’t have to be a professional writer, a great writer, or even a good writer. You just need to write.
Any writing tool works — computer, voice recognition software, or old-fashioned pen and paper.
There are three specific types of writing that are excellent tools for self-care. Each serves a different purpose. Use one or use them all.
My favorite is journaling — especially when things are particularly bad. It becomes a detailed record of my personal pain (for my eyes only). As I write (and sometimes cry), the pain seems to lessen.
The process is simple — you record everything you are thinking and feeling, using total “stream-of-consciousness” writing. It’s a way of capturing an internal monologue.
You “spill your guts” to the one person who will understand what you are going through (YOU).
You have complete freedom to express yourself. There is no one to judge or fix anything; you are simply getting it all out to ease the pain and keep the pressure from killing you.
Another simple form of self-care writing is a gratitude journal. The focus is on the good in your life — the things that make your life better.
Using pen and paper makes this type of writing more personal. Buy a lovely little notebook and select a special pen that you keep by your bedside.
Each night before you go to sleep, write down at least one thing that happened during the day that made you feel good — no matter how small. Be sure to date each entry.
The third type is a more involved project that will benefit you as you do it and will also create a wonderful gift for your family.
Capture Your Memories
Begin writing a memoir of your life that celebrates your wins or important moments. They can be huge or miniscule. They can be well-recorded moments with photos, like a wedding—or moments that no one knows about except you.
You can begin at the beginning — as far back as you can remember, or write about events as they surface in your memory. Once you start, you will be amazed at the things that pop into your mind.
There is no correct way to write a memoir — the important thing is to do it. It will be a joyous reminder of the important moments in your life and will give you a chance to re-experience the wonderful feelings that came with those moments.
Life can be challenging — but it is also joyful. It is important not to lose sight of the good times.
Writing can be an incredible healer of all wounds.
All you need is an instrument to record your thoughts and you are on your way.
Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time. –Mina Murray
Find the Time to Take Care of Yourself
Make yourself the focal point of your life’s picture — find time to breathe, to relax, and to enjoy life.
These five loving ways to take care of yourself can diminish the pressure, ease the pain, and help you feel better.
I challenge you to the following:
- Study each of the five carefully.
- Choose one that you can implement immediately.
- Practice it as outlined for at least a month — then, start a second one — and then, a third . . .
Let them be your safety valves when life’s pressures overwhelm you. The relief will make life easier to bear and a happier place to be.
Live one day at a time – and make it time well spent!
Related Post: Self-Care Must Be a Priority to Be Happy