January 24th, 2021

It’s important to take care of yourself in these stressful times

By Submitted Article on April 29, 2020.

Sonya Brown

Alberta Health Services

Anyone else too “busy” for self-care? We have all heard (in some capacity) the importance of self-care. Simply put, self-care is the act of being loving and generous to ourselves.

However, society often tells us that our worth is measured by our success, and our success is a representation of our productivity. On countless occasions, I have heard friends and colleagues feel disappointed in themselves if they didn’t have a productive day. I myself have felt guilty if I didn’t accomplish something by 10 a.m. on a Saturday.

We often put pressure on ourselves to do more, to add one more thing to our already overflowing plates. But why? When did filling up every hour of our day, or working overtime (again) or not sleeping in on a Saturday morning become a badge of honour? I believe it is partly due to real life getting in the way of prioritizing ourselves.

Many of us are juggling a career, family, children’s extra-curricular activities, and often times it seems impossible to attend a fitness class, to go for a dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, or simply take 20 minutes for yourself in the morning to read a good book before your family erupts from their bedrooms.

I truly believe we cannot pour from an empty cup. When we take care of ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically we are actually allowing ourselves the opportunity to be more productive, to live a healthier and happier lives and to maintain healthy relationships. Most importantly, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to recharge, to fill our cups back up so we can perform at our optimal capacity.

In this time of COVID-19 when people are self-isolating and practising social distancing, it’s especially important to take care of yourself. Our mental health can be fragile at a time like this. Anxiety and stress take a toll. Please visit our website ahs.ca/covid19 for comprehensive information on the COVID-19 situation; scroll down to find helpful items for mental wellness.

I can’t stress this enough: self-care does not have to be fancy. It can be simple and can only take a few minutes (if that is all the time you have). The only requirement is it has to relieve stress, make you smile, and ultimately make you feel better than before you started. Here are 10 small, simple self-care habits that we can all make time for:

1. Go for a run or a light jog

2. Meditate or do deep breathing for five minutes

3. Take a break when you need it

4. Grab a quick lunch with a friend (once the pandemic is over)

5. Laugh heartily at least once a day

6. Nourish your body with healthy foods

7. Start a journal

8. Read during the quiet of the morning

9. Start (or continue) that hobby you love

10. Most importantly, learn to say “no” to anything that doesn’t bring you joy

I challenge you all to say YES to yourself for once, and NO to whatever does not bring you joy. Start small, don’t overwhelm yourself with big goals that will leave you feeling defeated. And remember, less can truly become more.

Sonya Brown is a Health Promotion Facilitator with Alberta Health Services, and can be reached via email, sonya.brown@ahs.ca.

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