by Peter Benson, LAMFT
How are you doing with your self-care? Are you taking the time to take care of yourself? Are you noticing any differences? If you will allow me, I would like to share my own recent experience with self-care.
I am a father of 5 children. A husband to a wonderful woman. A son to generous parents with whom we live at the moment. I currently have two jobs and am working to excel in both. I am a member of a religious community to which I contribute. All of these roles I play are blessings and privileges I enjoy on a daily basis. With these blessings come stress, plenty of stress. I don’t share this to compare levels of stress in our lives or anything like that; rather I share to illustrate the impact that self-care has had on my ability to take this stress head on and come out the other side with some sense of humanity.
I have made moderate efforts to engage in self-care over the past few weeks. I believe that if I am asking you out there to engage in this, then I ought to as well. I did things like sitting down and playing games, reading with my children, snuggling with my wife, sitting down and drinking a cup of hot apple cider. These are all types of self-care that have enabled me to handle stress and make it from day to day. They help, I can’t deny it. As I have engaged in these I have had this nagging thought at the back of my head telling me that one area of my life that is being neglected is exercise. I would push it away with thoughts of “That takes too much time.” “I will start next week.” “I am too out of shape to do much.” “It is going to hurt.” So I put it off and watched Netflix for self-care instead.
One Saturday after a long week, I was trying to get my girls to help me clean their room. I was unsuccessful in my attempts to get the girls to help. When one would start to help, I would focus on another, who at the moment was “too tired” to clean, only to turn back and find the one who started cleaning sitting doing nothing. I was getting frustrated! It had, after all, been a long week. I felt some urgency because there were other things that needed to get done. I started to raise my voice (not proud of that). My wife intervened. She recommended that I take a friend up on an offer to go for a run. In my head, I thought, “I have too much to do! I need to just stick with this. I don’t have time for a run.” Then my therapist me kicked me. Self-care. TAKE time for it.
I went for a run with my friend. Guess what, it helped! A ton! I would say the boost it gave me lasted at least two or three days. I was able to come home, help my kids finish their chores and complete all of mine…. and I had exercised for the day! Bonus!
As I reflect on this experience, I find that some types of self-care are more impactful than others. For me running takes a bigger amount of time and effort than I would like AND the results it yields are totally worth the effort. I re-discover this each time I try it. Ironically on our run, my friend made the following statement: “Man, when I go on long runs, I can totally tell the difference with my kids. Even my wife notices it.”
Self-care matters. Quality self-care matters too. What is it for you? What is that thing that you have tired and stopped doing? You know it helps. You know it is important. It just continues to take a back seat to other more urgent things. Find that thing. TAKE time to do it. It will make a difference. Let me know how it goes. www.facebook.com/drapercenterforcouplesandfamilies or firstname.lastname@example.org
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