Self care is a hot topic these days. When you’re in the trenches of motherhood, parenting a small baby, or a toddler that drops his naps, you run out of steam. You need more sleep. But what about when you don’t have children or you already get enough sleep? What do you do when every moment weighs on you and anger bubbles out for no reason at all? How do you care for yourself when your entire life feels like a crisis?
In this case, the first step is still to figure out what’s weighing on you most. What triggers you? The next step is to break it down into manageable parts.
Humans Like to Be in Control
It doesn’t matter whether you’re one or a hundred. Humans like to be in control. Any toddler will let you know what cup they want. And you can bet if they don’t get it, their world is DONE! They knew what they wanted, but they didn’t get it. With time, they learn to tell us what they want, they continue to get upset if they don’t get it. The more control we give our children, the more calm they can be – and the better they’re able to cope when they don’t get their way.
It’s the same with adults. Self care is understanding the power we have over our own lives and using that power to direct where our life leads.
The less control we have over our own lives, the more stressed out we’ll be. As parents, this means if we feel like our children are ‘walking all over us’, we feel stressed and angry at our children all the time. If we have a ton of bills, and not enough money, we feel stressed. If health problems crop up, if one more thing goes wrong, if we don’t have a plan and life keeps happening, we spin around and feel adrift. Our stress levels sky rocket making it impossible to cope. No amount of bubble baths will make us feel better. Self care is not about lattes, it’s about knowing who you are and where your going.
How to Maintain Control
The most important thing to keep in mind is that we cannot control everything. The more we try to control everything, the worse we’ll feel. Instead find out what you can control as well as what’s important to you to control. Let go of everything else. Can you control whether your toddler will want the cup you give him? Nope. But you can control whether you ask him if he wants the red or blue cup. You can’t control unexpected expenses. But you can create a budget and control your money. You can’t control certain health concerns, but you can take care of your body by eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough sleep. In the event of health problems, you can decide which questions you ask, and whether you’ll follow the doctor’s advice.
It doesn’t matter what you want to control. What matters is that you define it. If you want to be the boss of your money, define your money. What comes in, where does it get spent, is there wiggle room? Which account(s) do you use? Who has access to your money? This won’t take away all the stress surrounding money, but it will give you a lot more power and lessen the weight on your shoulders.
Make a Plan
After you’ve defined what you want to be in control of, you need to make a plan. Using the money example: after you make your budget and know as much about your finances as possible, you need to make a plan. Where do you want to go from here? Do you want to save for the future, pay down bills, have enough for groceries? Where are you today and where do you want to be in six months? A year? Five?
Once you know the difference, you can plan how you’ll get there. Maybe you need to bring in more money, or get rid of some expenses. How are you going to do that?
The more detailed your plan, the easier it’ll be for you to follow. When you feel confident in your ability to direct where you’re going, it’s easier to let go of the things you can’t change.
Put It All Together
Make a plan. Know what you want, how you’re going to get it, and let go of the rest. If it doesn’t matter which cup the toddler gets, but it does matter if they meltdown, then offer both cups, “You’d like the red cup? Here it is. The blue cup’s here if you change your mind.” Simple.
Most of the things we stress about can be dealt with as easily as letting go of what doesn’t impact the direction our plan is taking us, and taking action towards the things that do matter to us.