Self-care, if not now, when?
It’s easy to put off looking after yourself. There seem to be so many other priorities that keep getting in the way. However, taking some time to notice and act on how you are coping with added demands, could help in all areas of your life. Self-care becomes particularly important when you work in a job that requires a lot of emotional energy. Often the day to day nature of this work can leave you feeling that you have few resources to take care of yourself and little time for the people who are important in your life. It can be common to feel tired and lethargic by the end of the day or week. Sometimes switching off from work can be difficult. Jobs that typically require a lot of emotional energy are also often very rewarding and involve making a positive difference to individuals or communities, and there are ways you can make this work sustainable for you.
Signs that you really need to take care of yourself better may include:
- Too little or too much empathy for others
- Resentment toward responsibilities
- Adopting a negative view of people in general.
- Difficulty controlling your reactions to others.
- Reduced job satisfaction.
- Harmful behaviour to avoid or escape thinking about work. Could include drinking more alcohol than usual.
- Distancing yourself from people, withdrawing from social situations where you need to talk to people.
- Increase in complaints or conflict at work.
There are things you can do to take care of yourself to ensure that you are able to keep up the meaningful work that you’re doing now and into the future.
5 Tips for Self Care
Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a self-care routine:
1. Find the Time
The day-day demands of life can become overwhelming and we may feel that we have little control over how we spend our time. Do an inventory of how you spend the hours of each day for one week. You may be surprised at how much spare time you actually have, focus on the things you choose to do and those which you must do. A good way to measure this is by the consequences of not doing them.
2. Create balance
There are many ways in which you can divide up the pieces of the “pie” of life, depending on your personal values, however some areas which are commonly important to people are: vocation, connection to others, physical health, and emotional wellbeing. Decide what regular activities ideally go into each of the important areas of your life. Then, pay particular attention to whether you are doing these things, and if not, make space for them.
3. Mention Your Needs
It’s common to feel guilty about taking time out for ourselves when we know that other people need us. Taking others’ needs into account is integral to maintaining healthy relationships, however, ensure that your needs are also part of a conversation with people in your life, at work and at home.
4. Notice the Signs
Understand the warning signs that you are not taking care of yourself properly. This will be different for everyone so pay attention to your body, your mind, and your emotions. Notice if you are feeling stressed or irritable and take pause. Listen out for messages from others. These may be cues - you need to look after yourself.
5. Make Room for Change
Often patterns of neglecting our own needs can start very early on in life and are almost impossible to detect. Habits of constantly prioritising others can be so entrenched and automatic that we are not aware of them. We may be fearful of what will happen if we make real changes. Take charge of your wellbeing in order to make positive and sustained change.
Counselling support can help you to set goals and find ways to achieve them especially when it comes to looking after yourself. Start now before things feel unmanageable. Call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728 to book a session.