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WHEN DOES SELF-CARE CAUSE STRESS?

Self-care can be the best preventive measure you can take for your health. Again lack or neglecting of self-care indicates mental health issues; for example, if you're feeling down, you fail to do your nightly rituals for better sleep. In the pandemic, self-care has become even more essential to maintain a functioning you.

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 Self-care is a priority on your to-do list. You know that to recharge, you have to look after yourself.      

  Your kids need your help, you have to multitask, or maybe a family member has a medical emergency. Finding the time to do everything can be stressful.

 You find yourself getting stressed and short-tempered with your little kids; then, when you see your child’s sweet face all puckered up, you give yourself a mental beating. 

  This stress becomes self-perpetuating and can quickly engulf other facets of your life; while you are scrambling to take control of your daily routine – manage to make time for a walk.

Instead of remembering and losing sleep, you can use this time as an opportunity to revamp your self-care routine so you get more bang for your buck. Looking at your decision-making process will help maintain a positive attitude and bring clarity to your thinking.

 First, you know that you try to do your best in whatever life has to offer. A downfall is that doing your best leads to an “all or nothing” cognitive distortion or thinking error: for instance, when you don’t practice self-care the way you believe, you have failed. You forget that your life circumstances were different when you made these plans to what they are now.

This sense of failure affects your self-efficacy or belief in yourself, as proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura. 

You tell yourself that you cannot do a meditation session at home without going to a class. You become disheartened and start feeling stressed and develop a mental fog. Here, the cognitive distortion of “catastrophic thinking,” or all is lost, is at play. You fail to acknowledge any decisive action you have taken toward your goal. You lose touch with your reality.  

 Once you have a clearer picture, you will realize that even minuscule attempts towards self-care will work, whatever they may be.  

Here the keyword is “whatever,” as there are no hard and fast rules for practicing self-care. Making a list of all those activities that give you joy can help you move a step closer to doing self-care every day – for instance, having a video chat with a friend whose company you enjoy. These steps can minimize the mental image of doing it “right” every time. 

 Keeping an activity schedule will help you to organize your day better. In this, you can include go-to activities like stretching or deep breathing. 

 Drinking endless cups of coffee, going on social media, or binge watching provide momentary stress relief. Furthermore, another disadvantage is that these activities offer no more than immediate gratification. They can sabotage your self-care in the long term – leading to procrastination, inadequate stress management skills or unprocessed emotions, which can all cause burnout and related health problems.

Once self-care becomes an integral part of your life, making time for it will be a breeze. Happiness galore, as you can have a repertoire of strategies, including meditation, the pinnacle of self-care, in your kitty. 

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting.

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional

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