Life is a roller coaster. I have been through times in life when I have needed help or care and seasons when I cared for loved ones who experience physical or mental health crises. Within the past year, I have lost a parent and an uncle who both needed extensive medical care and support. Several friends are battling serious health situations. My immediate family has experienced financial and personal struggles. It has been a tough 12+ months.
It is difficult to take time to focus on myself when so many people around me are in need; however, there are a couple of quotes that make profound statements. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”
I have seen and experienced the pain and loss that occurs when a person gives more than they can afford either financially, physically, or mentally. So, the moral becomes, “We have to put ourselves first.”
This is a tough lesson to put into practice for many who are naturally generous and giving in every aspect of their life. When we change our perspective to see that when we are healthy and have met our needs, we are able to give our best self to others, it makes a huge impact.
Learning to say “no”, or “I am unable to help at this time or in that way”, can be nearly impossible for some, but the results impact greatly our own ability to serve. Mental Health America offers the tips below for taking care of yourself so that you can continue to care for others:
- Live healthy. Eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid drugs and alcohol. Manage stress and go for regular medical check-ups.
- Practice good hygiene. Good hygiene is important for social, medical, and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness, but it also improves the way others view you and how you view yourself.
- See friends to build your sense of belonging. Consider joining a support group to make new friends.
- Try to do something you enjoy every day. That might mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden, painting or reading.
- Find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga, getting a massage, taking a bath or walking in the woods.
What are your tips for making YOU a priority? How do you set boundaries as you continue to support others? We can all learn through encouragement and support. Share your successes! I look forward to your feedback.