By Paula G
In times like these, self-care is essential. At the time of this writing, our country is in a state of turmoil. Regardless of the justification or lack thereof, there has been an avalanche of death and dying that is suffocating the heart, body, and spirit of anyone with a conscious.
Fathers who will never come home again, mothers who will never see their son’s again. Children who are left without a parent and are struggling with the loss, much less understanding the reason why. To add fuel to the fire, many agitators see fit to fan the flames rather than seek ways to extinguish an ultimate explosion ignited by a ball of confusion, hate, and self-gratifying agendas. This takes a toll on the decent men and women who are struggling to deal with it all. Whether these tragedies hit home or we are just observers from a far, one has to respond to the images of grieving families, friends, colleagues, and a child who has draped himself prostrate over the casket of his deceased father.
How do we go on? How do we move on? How do we heal? How as women, do we nurture and help those around us deal while we ourselves are hurting, stressed, and weakened by it all? Questions we are all seeking to answer. Healing starts with self-care.
We have to take care of ourselves before we can effectively care for others. It’s the concept of the airplane oxygen mask. As much as you would want to first make sure your loved ones are covered, you must cover yourself first. Sound self-serving? Look at it this way, if you are so busy making sure everyone else has their oxygen mask, how effective will you be to them when you pass out? You get my point.
We as women were created to be the nurturers, the givers of life. We as humans were not created for the level of stress that we deal with on a daily basis.
Psalm 62: 6-8 states (NKJV)
“My soul, Wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense: I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory: The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people: Pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. “
Prayer, meditation and quiet time are essential for self-care. We must look to a place and space greater than ourselves in order to get through times like these. So what can you do to relieve all of that negative energy?
Talk about it! Seek support from those who care about you and who understand how you are feeling. Turn it off and take a break. Step away from the newspaper, social media, TV news, etc. While you want to keep abreast of current events, limit how much you absorb. “Binge watching and listening” can only add to the stress and anxiety. I recall years ago when my husband was stationed overseas during the first Gulf War, I was glued to CNN almost 24/7 mostly out of fear. I dreaded the sound of a knock on the door for fear it was bad news (most of the time it was just the friends of my children wanting to play). This was not a good or healthy existence. I had to accept the fact that I would not be able to protect him from harm by binge watching the news. I had to go on with my life and pray daily. Thankfully, he returned home safely after a long tour of duty. That experience taught me how to better handle the remaining years of multiple deployments to areas of heavy conflict.
When you are dealing with so much tragedy you have to acknowledge your feelings and be gentle with yourself. It is ok to have those feelings. Once you are honest about them, you can then begin to deal with overcoming them.
Are you taking care of yourself? The theme of this whole intent! Mind, body and spirt. Make sure you eat well-balanced meals, drink plenty of water. Are you exercising? Are you meditating? These things all sound simple. You may say to yourself “I don’t need anyone to remind me of these things!” I am a witness that in times of great stress, you do need reminders. I recall a personal experience during a very dark season in my life. All of the above were not daily thoughts, much less occurrences. As a result, I lost an unhealthy 15 lbs. became anemic and very lethargic and withdrawn. A very ineffective state to be in.
Sometimes the best cure for anxiety and stress is to extend service to others in need. The joy that you can bring to another person’s life can be a healing factor when dealing with your own season of stress.
Allow yourself the opportunity and the time to grieve. Many of us often seek to avoid this painful process. We may choose inappropriate or detrimental means of anesthetizing the situation. The best way to heal is the hardest and that is working through the pain of the situation. There are various stages in the cycle of grief from anger to denial, bargaining, depression to acceptance. We all cycle through differently but we must all cycle through in order to heal. There is no standard on how long one remains in one or more of the stages. It is a personal journey but time does heal if we allow it to work its course.
Lastly, the forbidden option in some cultures, seek counseling, seek help! This has been frowned upon in previous generations. Those generations carried the scars accumulated and in some instances inflicted their pain on those closest to them and thus passed on the stress and anxiety to the next generation. Do not be afraid to seek professional help. It can mean the difference between chronic stress and anxiety vs peace and clarity.
Self-care is essential. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Some anticipate it will be more of the same. Prayerfully that will not be the case. However, if it is, you have the tools you need to navigate your way through the battlefield. God never said life would be easy. He simply told us He would never leave or forsake us. You are never alone. Be encouraged
Source: American Psychological Association