By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC
It seems that most of us tend to be proactive about our mental health when we have reached a pain point. When our stress is overwhelming or the physical pain unbearable, we tend to shift to the idea that we need a vacation. And, just like that the vacation becomes our self-care.
I’m not sure if this is part of the western work culture or simply just a way of life that we have taken on.
I want you to think about your concept of self-care.
Do you practice self-care daily or is it more of a practice that takes place when you reach a certain point?
I once worked with a client in a counseling session who shared that she would find herself throughout the year reaching certain points of stress. Once she would reach her stress threshold, she would take time off from work and go on a vacation. Relax at the beach with a cold margarita. The practice wasn’t working for her and in some ways, it was what had brought her to seeking counseling.
Today, I want you to rethink self-care. I want you to shift away from self-care being a practice that takes place when you’ve reached a pain point, to a practice that is an everyday part of your life.
It is your water.
Below is one tool that you can start using for stress management and self-care.
This is a tool that you have and only need to slow down to recognize just how impactful it can be. If a bee stung you today, you would feel the pain of the sting. You would tell me, “Ouch that really hurt.” That is mindfulness. It is your awareness of the present moment and how you connect with it.
Integrating mindfulness into your life can be a wonderful way to reduce stress and practice self-care. You can do this by increasing your awareness of what causes you physical and mental stress and creating coping skills to address the pain that you experience.
Questions and prompts to help you improve your mindfulness practice:
- What physical pain am I carrying?
- What emotional pain can I remove?
- I am going to stop what I am doing and stretch my body.
- I am going to stop what I am doing and take 5 deep breathes.
- How can I soothe myself right now?
- How can I recharge right now?
Each day try to reflect on the questions and prompts above. They will guide you to take action in your life versus waiting to find yourself feeling overly stressed or overwhelmed.
Avoiding the practice of mindfulness can often lead us to going an entire week or months at a time with ongoing pain. I know because this has happened to me.
At a point in my life, I found myself experiencing lower back. Day after day. Like most, I would tell myself that I would get used to it. That soon, I would stop and do more yoga. Before I knew it, time went by. The pain in back worsened to the point that I would feel it during my clinical sessions.
I share my story with you because we are all on the journey of mental wellness. We want to live our best life and feel inside and out alive. Feel that we are strong and capable.
To do this, we must awaken our ability of mindfulness. It is in each of us.
I hope that you walk away from this reading with guidance and empowerment. You have what you need to start your journey of inner healing today.
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