Self-care through maintaining balance

Today, my day went something like this:

‘Alarm clock, rush, rush, traffic jam, work, work, work, and more work, traffic jam, work, work, work, drive, drive, home, more work to do.’ Sound familiar? The day was so busy that I just wanted to shout, “Stop! Just stop and take a break!”

I know, I know. That is just how your day went too, right? Take a minute with me, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Any better yet?

Life can be so chaotic, so busy, and so full of activity that we often forget how important it is to take care of ourselves. We get so caught up with all of the things that we have to do that we don’t even notice how unbalanced our lives have become. Our society is so fast paced that it is hard for many people to catch their breaths – me included. It is at this time that I stop to reflect on some wise words I have recently read:

“Care must be taken not to be driven in one’s career to the extent that everything else loses value and accordingly does not receive the attention it should.” – Dr. Robert Wicks, in The Resilient Clinician.

I received Dr. Wicks’ book as a gift from the Loyola University Pastoral Counseling Department during a free ‘self-care’ workshop. One of my fellow blog writers has put together an excellent post describing the events of the day. Many thanks JoAnn! To read about our day of self-care, click here.

The Resilient Clinician offers helping professionals practical advice for avoiding burnout through working to maintain balance. Although the text is designed for those working in the mental health profession, the words of wisdom contained in the book are useful for anyone who (like me) is feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pressures life has to offer. Dr. Wicks goes in depth into many different topics from recognizing signs of burn out to developing strategies for self-care. I highly recommend reading the text whether you are a clinician or are simply feeling the physical and psychological effects of stress.

In Appendix E, Dr. Wicks challenges the reader to check balance in the following areas:

  1. Stimulation and quiet
  2. Reflection and action
  3. Work and leisure
  4. Self-care and care of others
  5. Self-improvement and patience
  6. Future aspirations and present positive realities
  7. Involvement and detachment

Today, I am going to just pick one off the list. I’ll start with number 1 simply because I am too tired to be all that original at the moment. I have had plenty of stimulation today. When I leave all of you, I am going to take 15 minutes of silence and just listen to the quiet.

Why don’t you join me? Your brain will thank you for it.

Summer Bucket List

The Summer Bucket List

We normally think of bucket lists as an extravagant to-do lists of grand scale. Well the summer bucket list: is a bit more accessible and can be completed before you start class in a few months.

  1. Be Physical – Ride a bike, hike a mountain, fly a kite, swim a few laps. You have been exercising your brain, now it is time to exercise your body.
  2. Be Vocal – Tell someone that you love them, like them, appreciate them or that you are glad that they are in your life. Family members, co-workers, friends and even professors are all great candidates.
  3. Be a Chef – Find an awesome recipe, go food shopping, dig out pots and pans and have fun! (Also make sure a fire extinguisher is handy).
  4. Be a Star – Sing a song, LOUD! You can sing in the car, in the shower, in your house, but let loose and let the world embrace your creative expression!
  5. Be Spiritual – Attend a Synagogue, Church, Mosque, Temple or wherever you worship and feed your spiritual center.
  6. Be at Rest – Get some sleep! Whether you listen to one of those nature sounds cds or buy a new memory foam pillow, do whatever it takes get some sleep, at least 7 hours worth.
  7. Be a little less Intelligent – Read a book that does not have any citations, references or any word with more than three syllables. Call it brain recovery.  
  8. Be Spoiled – Treat yourself to a guilty pleasure and don’t feel guilty! Drink a milkshake, eat some chocolate or even watch a movie with no discernible plot and have popcorn with extra butter. Whatever your pleasure, treat yourself; you deserve it!
  9. Be a Tourist – This area has wonderful landmarks, interesting places and marvelous museums, so release your “inner tourist” and enjoy them. 
  10. Be Helpful – Help someone else out without looking for anything in return. Helpings others is the gift that keeps on giving.  

Now these activities are great, but some don’t work well together. Singing a Phil Collins song at the top of your lungs while sitting in the warrior position in a yoga class is probably not the best idea. Neither is “being at rest” in the middle of channeling your inner Iron Chef in the kitchen. Waking up to the smell of OVER-blackened chicken and peppers is not a great experience. (Thank goodness for the fire extinguisher). So avoid those disasters and embrace your summer, it is already half over!!