Love Thyself: Emotional Preparedness for Life
In emergency preparedness we typically focus on the physical nature of being prepared – bug out bags, food storage, plans and drills. As parents the same holds true with our diaper bags, first aid kits, childproofing, and grocery lists. However we rarely think about the emotional aspect of things. This is like looking at the flower and thinking it gets all of its food from the sun, and neglecting the roots. Without good soil a flower will whither faster than without sunlight. Our emotional resilience and well being is what enables us to meet the demands of regular life and adapt to the challenges of emergencies. The best circumstances and well laid plans will do little if we are losing our heads.
Emotional preparedness really boils down to one thing – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Every mother knows this, mainly because we don’t do it until we’re forced to, or post breakdown. I think we can all agree that’s like waiting until a cold has turned into pneumonia before treating it. However part of the problem is that we often don’t know how to care for ourselves the same way we care for others. Someone once pointed out to me that the Savior’s commandment “to love thy neighbor as thyself” involves loving thyself. We are better able to care for others when we take care of ourselves. So from one frazzled mama to another, let me share what I’ve learned through years of mistakes.
- Exercise – not just for that pre baby weight goal, but for the endorphins and energy
- Healthy eating – you are what you eat and healthy food will keep you physically healthy and able, and therefore do the same for your emotional and spiritual health
- Get enough rest (which is a challenge with children) – this is PARAMOUNT! Nothing will precipitate a breakdown of body and mind faster than not getting enough sleep. Read more and get help here
Taking time for your self, do something you enjoy or just for you. Just like your body needs to rest after a workout for the muscle tissue to restore itself, so does that brain of ours. That hamster runs on his wheel at top speed all day trying to keep track of practices, homework, church responsibilities, and work deadlines.
Avoid drugs or alcohol – they will magnify the effects of stress and often release it in unwanted forms, like anger, usually on others. Besides they don’t help with the underlying stress, they are just a form of escape.
Recognize your own feelings – as adults and parents we have a whirlwind of emotions throughout the day. Anger and frustration, joy, sadness and guilt, exhaustion, triumph and doubt. We are frequently under the illusion that we must be happy all the time, especially as parents and feel guilty when we don’t or are frustrated when we can’t seem to get there. Remember this is LIFE! If it was meant to be happy all the time God would have designed this earth like Disney land and we’d never have lines. The ups and down of life are designed to strengthen us emotionally and spiritually. Berating yourself for not being happy 24/7 is like getting upset that you gained muscle instead of losing fat!
Take time to talk with an adult about your feelings – talking (especially for women) is therapy! Talking is a way to clear the slate and take a step back to see things from outside of your own tunnel vision. Almost every time I’ve taken the time to talk to my husband, or sister, or a good friend, I gain a new perspective on my life and its challenges and blessings.
Drop the guilt, you’re doing fine, there are no experts! This is probably the hardest to do in a world of ideals, and unrealistic expectations. Its OK to be a work in progress, in fact that’s a good thing. A finished work has no purpose here no this earth, and I’m not ready to leave yet!
Laugh as much as possible – watch a funny movie, read the comics, play with your kids, if you can stand it, let someone tickle you. Just laugh!
Accept help, in fact ask for it. Help either asked for or not is a form of love! When we allow others to help or serve us we open ourselves up to feeling loved. And love is the best medicine!
Cry as much as you need to, it’s not a sign of weakness. Crying may be a sign that you’ve been too strong for too long.
Do something by yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes locked in the bathroom hiding from the kids. A time out is good for every one.
Do something as a couple – not only is it good from your marriage but it usually addresses several of the items on this list
Take care of yourself (hygiene and beauty) – some days the best you may get is a shower and others you may be able to dress to kill, either way its amazing how this simple (or time consuming) act can rejuvenate us.
Relaxation techniques – music, meditation, massage, spa treatment, epsom salt bath, or simply getting a babysitter.
Get out of the house if possible (fresh air, sunshine, and vitamin D) – studies have actually shown that this can be more effective than an antidepressant.
Serve others – its amazing how focusing on others makes our own problems shrink!
What’s your favorite way to love thyself?
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