You have tons of projects piling up at work, your tasks list keeps getting larger, you are having trouble staying focused, you are starting to lose motivation and you find yourself lost in your thoughts. Before you know it the work day is over. So you go home, you find the house a mess, the dishes are not done, the kids are crying and suddenly you realize you forgot to pick up groceries on your way home to make dinner.
Everything seems to be going fast passed and you are struggling to keep up and stay focused with it all. So you reach a state of going through the motions but you don’t even remember what you did last.
Maybe you are going through a break-up or just had a fight with your parents. Maybe you have too many assignments to do for school or just found out your best-friend was talking badly about you behind your back. You are stressed, hurt, devastated and you reached a stage of being overwhelmed and burned out, so you stop yourself and think what do I do?
You get on social media and scroll through what people are doing until you get bored. You call your friends and go out for a drink, you are enjoying your time and having fun. Then you get home and watch TV until you fall asleep. The next morning you wake up and all those feelings of stress, hurt, devastation and being overwhelmed surface again… Now what?
Everyone has been through one of those moments one way or another during their lifetime. People tend to deal with emotions by avoiding them and finding means of distraction. Although those distractions seem helpful in the moment, as soon as they are over, those feelings come rushing back.
This is why it is crucial to know the difference between distraction and self-care.
Distractions are a temporary relief, an instant gratification. That’s why we tend to lean on them. We wait until we can’t take it anymore and then we want something to make us feel good…NOW. What you don’t realize is during those moments, when you need healing the most, distractions are destructive and create a pathway to escape from your emotions.
Self-care is a key fundamental practice that helps you heal, it helps you understand yourself, care for yourself and build a strong foundation to foster growth and self-development. There are three motivations for self-care, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The three vital components that mirror those motivations are self-maintenance, self-regulation, and self-compassion. Let’s talk about each one in more details
Self-maintenance addresses the conscious element of the human being. In other words the physical reality. How do you take care of your physical self? For example, going to the gym, getting your nails done, taking a shower, prioritizing healthy sleep patterns and eating habits, etc…
Self-regulation is the sub-conscious component of the human being. This is the principle that influences thoughts and drives action. In simpler terms, this is where thought patterns are formed. How we make the decisions we make and what makes us more susceptible to temptation at times more than others. You might ask, well how do I take care of my subconscious self? To do that you have to be aware of your limits and gain control of your thoughts. For example, maintain a work/life balance, set clear boundaries, learn to say “no” and speak up for yourself. If you are having trouble in this array, keeping a journal is helpful in monitoring your thoughts.
Self-compassion is the unconscious ingredient and the most overlooked component of self-care. Think of it as the hub of emotions. If I ask you to name all the things that you love, how long will it take you to name yourself?
To practice self-compassion you have to be willing to create an environment that nurtures YOU. Focus on what is truly important to you and take your time to process your feelings and emotions. When you are suffering, don’t self-criticize and run away from yourself, rather recognize that your imperfections make you your perfect self. Be gentle, warm and understanding to yourself. How do you do that? Practice being mindful. Keep in mind that you can’t show compassion for your pain and ignore it at the same time. What you can do is slow down and breathe…be open to observing your feelings and emotions with clarity and mindful awareness. Train your mind to veer away from judgment and denial. Find the strength to adjust your focus to connect with your current state as it is. Once you reach this state of equilibrium, be accepting of your reality and show kindness to yourself. Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness.