Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Too Busy? Take Time for Yourself.

Our lives are busy. We are constantly running here and there, taking care of work, kids, parents, friends, pets, neighbors, etc. But often we forget to take care of ourselves. When that happens we can become stressed or depressed. Learning self-care techniques can help us manage stress and improve our moods. We are all familiar with the our instructions every time we fly in an airplane – “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.” This is helpful advice that should be applied in all areas of our lives. We need to take care or ourselves first in order to be able to help others.

“But I don’t want to be selfish – isn’t taking care of myself selfish?” Taking care of ourselves is actually healthy. We need to remember to pay attention to all areas of our lives – our physical health, mental health, spiritual health, financial health, intellectual health, etc. Our bodies, minds, and souls need to be nourished and protected so that we can operate at optimum capacity to serve and help others.

“I’m too busy to take care of myself – I can’t abandon my responsibilities. How will everything get done?” We all have 24 hours in our days, but there will always be more to do. If we practice self-care we will be more relaxed, able to concentrate, and more efficient, so we will actually be able to accomplish more, not less. Self-care increases our capacity to give and serve.

How do we take care of ourselves?

  1. Develop healthy eating habits.
  2. Get consistent sleep.
  3. Commit to regular exercise.
  4. Relax. Set aside 15-30 minutes every day for relaxation. Take a bath, pray, take a nap, draw a picture, write in a journal, read a book, talk to a friend, pet your cat or dog.
  5. Breathe deeply.
  6. Listen to music.
  7. De-clutter your house and your life. Take 15 minutes a day to pick up a room, sort through some papers, or make a goal/priority list.
  8. Laugh as much as possible. Watch a funny movie or television show. Read the comics or a joke book. Listen to a friend tell funny stories. Laughter is good medicine.

What are the benefits of taking care of ourselves? We will be more relaxed, confident, stronger, and more content. We will feel less stressed, have improved concentration, and a greater sense of peace and direction. We will have more energy, and will be able to accomplish more with less. We will also be a great example to others. For more ideas or assistance with self-care and stress management, contact me at

Permission is granted to reprint this article in your newsletter or magazine as long as the following information is included: "Jama Thurman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Life Coach working in Manassas, VA, helping adolescents and women who are stressed and depressed find peace and purpose. For more information about counseling and life coaching, please email or visit"