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Self-Care is a Necessity

02.26.11

Do you ever get so busy that you neglect to take care of yourself?  You know, taking care of kids, parents, friends, business, the house, but not allowing down-time for yourself?   Do you know why they say on the airplane to put on your oxygen mask first, before helping others?  It’s so you don’t pass out!!  Self-care is like that.  Sleep, Exercise and maintaining good Boundaries are just a few ways to take good care of yourself.

Sleep:  The brain replenishes chemicals necessary for good mental health while we sleep. Serotonin in the brain is replenished while we sleep, and it is responsible for impulse-control during our awake hours.  Aha!  If we are impulsively eating, or impulsively yelling at the kids, maybe we need to get more sleep.  Kids need apx. 8-12 hours of sleep, depending on their age.  Do you get enough sleep?  I personally need about 9 hours of sleep for optimal health.  You could do an experiment, to find out your best sleep time:  get up at the same time every day for 4 weeks (yes, holidays and weekends, too).  You will find that you start to get tired at a specific time range in the evenings.  That is your body telling you to go to bed.

Exercise:  Fights depression, anxiety, mood swings, abnormal eating patterns, builds muscles, burns fat.  Even if you only exercise 10 minutes a day, it is better than nothing.  Getting that heart beating about 80% of its capacity for about 30 minutes or more, 3-4 times per week is recommended.  Find something that is FUN for you!  There’s a reason they call it “recreation.”  You get to re-create yourself.  You remember that you are more than a human doing.  You are a human being.

Boundaries:  Saying No to too many things in your schedule, not caving in to your kids’ whining, and being self-disciplined to live out your values is all part of good self-care.  You can learn to tolerate the anxiety that comes when others are trying to manipulate you into their mold.  You can learn to allow the other person to be upset with you.  Your self-worth is not based on their thoughts about you.  Those guilt messages are mostly untrue.

Put your oxygen mask on first, then help the others around you.  Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury.   For more ideas on taking good care of yourself, let me help you.  If you have anxiety, guilt, depression, or need to work on developing your boundaries, call me at 847-962-5234, or email me at JFaith@NorthlightCounseling.com

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