I was honored recently to have the opportunity to volunteer my time and give a presentation about stress management to a local organization (Dress for Success Denver) that does job readiness training and outfits women for interviews as they return to the work force. We talked about stress and all the things that cause us stress as well as ways we can reduce and manage stress when it gets to be too much. One of the reasons I enjoy presenting this information is because it really seems to help the participants look at stress differently and start to make changes in their lives that are good for them. The other reason is rather selfish – it’s a great way for me to check in about my own stress levels and how I am managing them. So I decided it was a good time to do a semi-annual review for myself and my own stress level.
In my work as a coach and therapist I stress the importance of self-care, doing things to take care of ourselves so that we have the energy and emotional well-being to give to the important people in our lives every day. But it isn’t enough to talk about it tell others how to do it, I have to be the example. That’s why checking in with myself every so often is a good thing.
So, how am I doing? I think of taking care of myself as being on two levels, an overall commitment to self-care, and remembering to do little things every day that feed my soul and strengthen my connections to myself and the people around me. My big commitments to myself include eating healthily, getting exercise, taking time off when I need a break, practicing gratitude, fostering good relationships with friends, family, clients, and others I come into contact with every day, and being mindful as much as possible in my life. And, honestly, all the other things I do probably fall into one of these categories.
Anyone who knows me knows I like to eat. And they would also know that mostly I eat healthily. I do cheat every now and then, which I think is part of both caring for myself and staying healthy, so I think I’m doing good in that area. And anyone who knows me also knows that I have a dog who needs to go on long walks every day, no exceptions. She even wants to go on walks when she isn’t feeling well, like when she went to the vet’s for shots a couple of weeks ago. So I get exercise walking, but I could find more opportunities to do more. Exercise is so good for reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and blood pressure, and I do want all of that! I have been feeling busy, but have been taking time off to read, knit, and do other good things for me. In fact, I took time off the entire Memorial Day weekend that is all about fun, so I think I’m taking enough breaks.
Gratitude is something I do really well at times, and not as well at others, but I think it evens out, and I’ve had some great reminders lately to stay on track. I can’t help but connect with people around me in all areas of my life because it’s something that is second nature and just happens for me without much effort. Where I have trouble with this is when I agree to do too many things for and with others and don’t take the time I need to recharge (I am an introvert). Spring and summer get particularly busy with parties and activities, and I want to do them all, but I have to maintain balance if I truly want to stay connected. And, finally, I work at being mindful, but see so many areas where I could do better. And I really do need to practice mindfulness more often.
If I were to give myself a report card, I think I’d get a “B”. So, have some work to do, and I even have some good ideas about how to improve. But I’m doing ok. I can live with that.