Ever come to the end of your day and feel completely, utterly drained? The kind of exhausted where you have nothing left to give and even chit-chatting with your family or friends is a challenge?
Typically, it’s not physical exhaustion (the kind you feel after running a marathon) that brings us to this place… it’s emotional.
It’s a long, demanding work day. It’s unexpected car troubles. It’s frustration from the delay in scheduling a medical appointment. It’s a larger than normal bill arriving in the mail.
It’s the things outside of our normal level of ‘stress’ that derail us. Things that we aren’t prepared for.
Most of us are generally ready for the day-to-day tasks in our life. We know how to maintain our emotional energy levels to keep up with work, kids, family, household chores, etc. It’s when things are bigger than normal that we feel overwhelmed.
To manage those larger-than-expected levels of stress it takes a bit of preparation.
Any of you ever shop at Costco or Sam’s Club? Ever considered why it’s appealing to purchase 72 waffles or 54 rolls of toilet paper? I think it might be the sense of security in purchasing items in bulk. Knowing that you are set, secure and prepared for months is reassuring and comforting.
It seems that while many of us are champs at preparing for our home life with bulk purchases, very few of us ever consider investing this heavily in our mental, physical, or spiritual health.
You can invest in your personal well-being to ‘stock up’ the same way as you would during a Costco shopping spree; that way if something unexpected happens, you’re prepared. When you experience high stress, a crisis, or a chaotic experience you will have enough in the reserves to sustain and maintain at a stable emotional level.
So how do you fill up your emotional tank? With self-care.
There are many, many ways to practice self-care. The most effective ones are the ones that we can make part of our daily routine, so they become second nature.
One acronym I use to help remember some of the basic areas of caring for yourself is PLEASES. (As in: “It PLEASES me when I care of myself.”)
Physical / Mental Health: seeking support if you recognize that your physical/mental health isn’t optimal, participating in activities that help your body and mind function well;
Leisure / Social Activities: scheduling fun activities into your day, make time for something pleasurable and enjoyable for you, this could be a craft or hobby, a MeetUp group for your favorite sport, connecting with others during a game night or coffee with a friend;
Eating Healthy: getting nutritionally dense foods, skipping snacks right before bed, eating consistently throughout the day instead of one or two large meals;
Avoiding Mood Altering Substances: avoiding or limiting any substances that alter your mind/body/mood (alcohol, marijuana, sugar, caffeine, nicotine, etc);
Sleep: participating in a bedtime routine that will set you up to get a full night rest, decreasing screen time the hour before bed (turning off the TV, tablet, phone), taking a hot shower/bath before bed;
Exercise: moving your body helps your body regulate and mange stress hormones, try things like taking the stairs at work, parking farther away and walking 50 extra steps, stretching while watching TV, or signing up for a workout class with a friend.
Spiritual: find ways to connect with your spiritual/religious beliefs consistently and in a way that’s meaningfully to you.
If you think back to a time you felt able to manage all the stress and challenges that you were facing, how many of these things were you doing consistently?
What happens when you neglect some or all of these areas? You will become more vulnerable to stress, more emotional, moody, irritable. You’ll start turning to less effective ways of taking care of yourself (fast food for dinner, a glass of wine as the only way you can unwind, skipping workouts or time with friends because you don’t have time). You’ll come home at the end of the day left feeling drained and overwhelmed.
Imagine we are sitting across from each other and I asked how many of these areas you nurture and attend to on a regular basis, what would your answer be?
Self-care doesn't have to be hard, but it may take some conscious decision-making on your part to make it happen.
If you find you need some ideas to help get you started, I created a FREE downloadable printout called My Self-Care Checklist. It gives you plenty of activities to try so you can start figuring out what nurtures you most. I included a second blank page so when you know what PLEASES you, you can fill in and hang up your Self-Care Checklist around your house as a reminder to keep your emotional tank full.
I’d love to hear what are the top ideas on your Self-Care Checklist. Share with me in the comments or shoot me an email!
Be bold in caring for yourself,