You can’t pour from an empty cup, Take care of yourself first
Many years ago when I was in graduate school, my professors really stressed the importance of self- care. I never really “got it” until the end of last school year. I completed my 15th year as a School Counselor and let me tell you, it was a year that will probably be referred to as my “ah-ha” year. Those close to me have asked, “why has this been a more difficult year than in the past?” Well, here are just a few reasons….we got a new Principal, our building was remodeled, (we were able to go in our building the day of open house), it was a year of “ that never happened before”, the rise in mental health needs of my students has dramatically increased, along with having navigate through the horrible issues of sexual abuse against some of the sweetest and so innocent children in my building.
On a personal perspective, I also have a two and three year old at home. Having two toddlers in the home is a blessing, but also a struggle with them still needing so much attention. When you combine the stress at work and the stress at home when it comes to being a Mom, it can be so incredibly overwhelming. Dealing with sexual abuse has always been an difficult for me as a counselor. Now that I have two very young girls, it makes it even more difficult. I am the only counselor in my building which makes processing some of this almost impossible. I realized after the 4th or 5th case that I was beginning to internalize feelings, which is not typical for me. It’s hard for us to sometimes recognize these things until symptoms show up or someone close to us points it out. For me, both happened I started to have many symptoms of anxiety and difficulty sleeping, and I just couldn’t shut off my brain. Of course, with lack of sleep I became moody, grumpy, impatient, and overly emotional. One morning before work I was just in tears…I mean I couldn’t even get makeup on. My husband basically pointed out that I needed to figure this out and find ways to cope and he would help in an way he can.
I began brainstorming ideas of what I needed to do to take better care of myself. Here is what I started doing to help my own emotional well being. I returned back to exercising, after I had our girls I wasn’t as consistent as I was previously and I could tell. I started being more intentional in food prepping for the week. I take my lunch to work and having healthy meals already cooked, packaged up, and ready to go makes things so much easier during the week. Lastly, I started to do household chores a little each night. I now spend about 15 mins each evening doing something around my house to avoid feeling so overwhelmed on the weekends. I have also started doing small loads of laundry throughout the week so I don’t have to spend so much time doing it on the weekends. Doing just these few things have made a tremendous impact in bringing a little balance to my life. Little by little I’m incorporating small little tasks that help me not to feel so overwhelmed so I can have more time to relax on the weekends. I would love to hear from you and what you do to help life easier and less overwhelming for you.