Hello readers! Thanks for being patient with me as I get adjusted to me new home and school. Today was my first day at school and well….uh I survived so I guess that’s good. Anyways, since I can’t be here much this week- I had asked one of my favorite bloggers Aaron at The Confusing Middle to write a post for us this week! If you’re just tuning in, welcome to “The Shaz Show”! Here we talk about real life issues and solutions. I kid. No I do not. Okay I need more sleep. Anyways, Aaron is awesome. I specifically asked him to write for me and write about this topic because this is something I have been lacking lately and should not be lacking as I start grad school. So listen to Aaron everybody!
Dear readers of For the Love of Sass…
First, let me say it’s an honor to be asked to write a guest post this week while Shaz adjusts to life in grad school and Boston (You’ve got this!). Second, if you’ve ever read my personal blog, you might be expecting something funny. I don’t always think I’m funny, but I’m told that, a lot of the time, I have humor mixed in with my posts. Well, Shaz suggested that I write something about self-care. This is something that I actually take pretty seriously because it’s a concept that not too many people consider important. So I’ve tried to take this post kind of seriously. But if you get a chuckle thrown in here or there, I guess that’ll just be a bonus.
It’s a little sad to me, to think that a movie that came out when I was a kid is now old enough to be considered a classic. But, that’s because, despite the fact that I’m actually in my mid-30s, I like to believe I’m still in my mid-20s. This doesn’t change the fact that Pretty Woman, a classic film, is now 27 years old. Anything over 25 is an antique, right?
“Take care of you,” is a line from that 27-year-old movie. Sure, it’s advice given by one prostitute to another as she climbs into Richard Gere’s Lotus, speeding toward Beverly Hills. But it’s still good advice. And it’s advice that we don’t often think to apply to our own lives.
I’ve spent the majority of my career working as a counselor in various capacities. Most people who have worked in a human services related field will tell you that it can be difficult to separate yourself from the people you’re helping. And that’s because you’re able to go beyond feeling sympathetic toward the people around you. It’s because you’re able to empathize, genuinely feeling what another person is feeling. It means you’re willing to get down into the mud with someone and help them get through whatever it is they’re going through.
Where do you draw the line? Where are your boundaries?
Boundaries need to exist. When I first started out as a counselor, I didn’t understand that. I worked with kids who had heartbreaking stories. Seriously, I sometimes joke that I don’t have a soul, but thinking about what some of my clients had been through during their first four or five years of life would bring me to the edge of tears. Starting out, it was so easy to get drawn into my clients’ lives. At the same time, it was so difficult to leave it all behind at the end of the day. Over time, I learned to do just that. I learned how to leave my work at work, because if I didn’t, it would tear me up inside and begin to affect my personal life.
But taking care of yourself isn’t limited to people who work closely with other people. Everyone needs to hear that line, “Take care of you,” from time to time. If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s impossible to take care of others. Think about it this way: When you’re on an airplane and the flight attendants are giving instructions for emergency situations, do they tell you to help everyone in your row to get their oxygen masks on before you reach for yours? No! Because by the time you’re finished putting on masks for everyone else, you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen. You put your mask on, then you help the old lady sitting next to you. That may seem like a hard thing to think about. But it isn’t selfish. It’s smart.
So how should you go about taking care of yourself? How do you make sure that you are finding ways to destress at the end of your day? I’d love to give you advice or some kind of “How to” instruction, but it just isn’t that simple. Everyone is different. Everyone has different stressors in their lives and everyone has different ways of eliminating stress. But here are a few ideas that may get the ball rolling for you…
Exercise – This could be jogging/running, weightlifting, spin class, hiking, rock climbing, dancing, sports, Tae Bo (Is that still a thing? I told you, I’m old… Also, clearly not in touch with current exercise trends). Whatever physical activity you prefer can be an incredible way to release tension.
Music – This is one that I can identify with, big time. After a long day at work, I had a long commute back home. So I would crank up the radio in my car and sing along with whatever I was listening to. Music can be a great way to help you unplug.
Friends – Being around other people can help to alleviate your stress. Unless your friends are what is causing your stress. In which case, avoid those people like the plague. But, the true friends in your life, the ones that are there for you no matter what, they’re the ones that can help you to take care of you.
Family – This can fall into the same category as the Friends, actually. If watching movies and TV has taught me anything, it’s that family can often be the source of stress for people, especially around the holidays. But family is also an incredible blessing (whether I want to always admit it or not). I know it’s different for everyone. But, if you’re lucky, home is where you can go because there’s always someone there who will take you in.
Alcohol – Look, I’m really not a drinker myself. So I thought about not listing this one. But Homer Simpson once described alcohol as both the cause and solution to all of life’s problems. He’s not too far off, I’m sure. I’m not saying that you should go out and get hammered whenever your boss starts breathing down your neck or you just found out that your student loan payments are coming due next week. But a glass of wine at the end of the day to help you unwind sure won’t hurt anyone.
Create – Draw, paint, sculpt, write, take pictures, build… What kind of art are you into? Doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not. Get into it. Get your hands dirty. If it’s what you love, let nothing stop you.
Kids, these are just six simple examples of how you can focus on your needs. But no one can tell you how to do that. It’s something you have to figure out for yourself. Maybe there’s a way that works for you that isn’t on my far from exhaustive list. Whatever it is, do it.
Disclaimer: I am not giving you permission, nor am I suggesting that you start being selfish. There’s enough of that going on in the world today. Love people, but love yourself, too. Find the balance. It exists, trust me.
For more posts by Aaron, check out his blog The Confusing Middle. And do send me more cookies and letters! I’m going to need some this week…