Self-care thoughts by Julie Johnson, LPCC-S, LMHC-QS, LPC-PCS

While changes and challenges occur to us all, a thought, an insight if you will, into this therapist's mind is something I have wanted to write about for a while.  A little walkabout if you will into some lessons that most of us can benefit from.  I work with clients who are individuals who struggle with life changes such as dating, individuals in relationships, getting out of relationships, and grief. I decided long ago in my career that stress can come from work, home, relationships, and just about anywhere we are and these are the places I find myself assisting most often. So let's start...Self-care. What has been perceived for generations, as geared toward women, is selfish, without it not only do we suffer but others around us do too. A mortal sin really. That makes me frustrated when so many women out there in this vast world still think that we cannot take time for ourselves or others will suffer. Well, I am here to say, that if you do not take time to care for yourself, others will be the ones suffering. Due to my world paradigm, I include YOU, no matter how you identify. How you may be thinking? Let's start with work. Great work ethic is appreciated and believe me when I say I know work. However, when we do not take time off, or get up for lunch, or stay glued to our desks and not stand up each hour, our productivity decreases, the quality of what we do decreases, and we burn out sooner than if we take those breaks, get lunch, stand up! Don't get me wrong, I am not saying you have to even stand up and take a long break, but when we do take a break, our productivity for the next hour actually increases. Our minds thank us for it. Long, sustained work days that go by and we don't eat, don't stand up, don't walk away from that desk leads to anxiety, frustration, anger, resentment, and that means burnout. Burnout doesn't just stay at the job, but follows you into your personal life too! Guess what men, you have burnout too! You are not excluded, no matter what your orientation is. Being human is being susceptible to burnout and burnout means work, relationships, finding relationships, and managing emotions, which could lead to time off work unpaid or paid that you did not want to take. Did you know that Americans are the worst about taking time off including vacations, let alone mandatory time off for reasons that aren't pleasant? This leads me to the next subject, self-care and personal life.  Let's get personal for a bit. Are you in a relationship? Married, not married, anywhere in between counts. Are you wanting to be in a relationship but cannot find the time? Do you have children, of any age, even adult children, count?  Yep, you may have guessed, I also include expecting parents! Sounds like self-care is needed. Balancing your personal life can be, well, exhausting. Ever feel tired? overwhelmed? anxious? depressed- even if its situational? This can all occur in our homes, outside of our homes. Are you withdrawing from calling your friends or family as it just feels like you are too tired or busy to fit it in. Ah, you may have guessed what I am about to say... you are well overdue on self-care. A leading cause of illness is stress and stress's leading cause is lack of self-care.  Healthy relationships of all kinds are rooted in self-care and that translates to self-love. Don't let life get you to a point that working, inside, outside, and all areas of your life feel unmanagable. All this talk about self-care. Well, what is it and how can you find time? I know you are busy, just don't have time for that. I get it. Perhaps you think it would take time from your sleeping hours, caregiving hours, grocery shopping, or anything else that your busy routine is already too full to do. How do you fit one more thing into that busy day? Great news, self-care can be done in as little as 2 minutes a day. Here are some ways that you can engage in self-care and fit it into your busy day. Wake up earlier. Just a few minutes or as many as you like. Getting up a few minutes earlier,