If the pandemic hasn’t taught us anything, it has definitely taught the importance of self-care! Today’s stress is majorly overwhelming, affecting people financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. What I have found, though, is regardless of if we are in a pandemic or not, we must be concerned with our mental health. Abandoning it can impact your physical health negatively (e.g., stress leading to high blood pressure which leads to strokes) and prevent you from living your best life.
One of my teacher friends was so stressed as a teacher that she experienced two mini-strokes on the job twenty-four hours apart. A day later, she was quarantined for fourteen days after being exposed to COVID-19. During this quarantine, she realized that the stressful conditions of the school along with the challenges posed by the pandemic were not conducive to her mental health.
Scarred by the mini-strokes, she quit, took several months off to focus on her mental health, and then accepted employment that took her mental health concerns seriously. She says that this mental health break that God sat her down for was key to saving her life. Although this was a serious situation that could have caused her children to become motherless, I don’t want to instill fear into you. I want to instill in your action. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. It’s necessary! Think about it. If you are on a plane and something necessitates masks to be put on immediately, whose mask should be put on first? Yours or your child’s? Our maternal inclination will compel us to put on our child’s mask first, but if you happen to pass out, you and your child will be passed out, risking further injury.
My friend had identified many triggers in her position that contributed greatly to her stress levels, but she ignored the red flags. She ignored the less than four hours of sleep per night; the time away from her toddlers; her lack of presence at her daughter’s theatrical performances; her stress eating; her lack of energy; her lack of friends… She just powered through every day without considering the damage it was having on her body. Besides, she had children to take care of!
The question then became when she is hospitalized for extreme stress, who would take care of her children? I implore you to identify the stressors in your life. Write them down if you have to! Develop a list of tasks that would combat those stressors. Consult with a mental health professional to help you explore positive ways to combat stressors. And DO what they say! Tired of the unnecessary stress, she began to manifest the life she really wanted. She made her list very specific and “[spoke] those things that are not as though they were!” Instead of saying, “I wish I could speak in public with confidence one day,” say, “I speak publicly with confidence.” Instead of being afraid to speak up at work, affirm that [you] can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Phillippians 4:13). Repeat them as affirmations. Before long, she found a job that met her specifications; she’s been loving it since!
Lastly, identify what makes you happy. Are they weekend getaways? Beach trips? Resorts? Whatever it is, go for it! Try doing something for yourself on a regular basis. If you cannot afford a full trip, treat yourself to a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant once a month. Let your hair down while enjoying live music at a local event! Check out a new play, ballet, or opera performance. These frequent, happy experiences will help transform you into the person you are supposed to become. Change can be scary, but it can be good, too. So, embrace change. Live boldly. Live on purpose. Live beautifully. Live better. Love YOU!