No matter who you are; child, teen, adult, or somewhere in between – stress is a part of life. Luckily, there are folks like counsellor Dave Wiebe at Ehrlo Counselling Service (ECS) who can teach us a little about how to deal with our stress before it becomes too much!
Stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes in our work or home life it can feel like too much. If we don’t look after ourselves, we run the risk of becoming exhausted and finding it difficult to refuel and regenerate. For this reason, and for reasons of generally maintaining good mental health, everyone needs to make sure that their own needs are being met and that they are exercising good self-care, separately from or in addition to any other responsibilities they may have, such as work or home life.
Three themes connected with good self-care are Awareness, Balance, and Connection (ABC):
Awareness of when we are distressed and may be in need of stepping back and taking some action to look after ourselves is critical. It can be dangerous to “just suck it up” as if nothing is wrong, as this can lead to greater distress.
Balance: finding a balance within our work life as much as possible, but also a balance between work and personal/family/social life is very important. We can’t be mentally healthy if we are focused only on work.
Connection: Positive relationships with others (co-workers, family, friends) provide a strong protection in stressful circumstances and are crucial for our overall wellbeing.
Specific ways to exercise self-care are unique to each of us. It may involve some sort of physical activity or sport, artistic pursuits, family time, socializing, reading, meditation or other spiritual pursuits, spending time in nature, eating and sleeping well, or keeping a journal.
It can be useful to think about what you may want to commit to doing for yourself:
- Things you want to do more
- Things you want to start doing
- Things you do alone
- Things you do with others
- Things for your mind
- Things for your soul
- Things for your body
If we ever get to the point where we find we cannot regenerate adequately and our distress level is unmanageable, it may be time to reach out to a professional to help us develop strategies to get back on track. Likewise, if we have a sense that someone else in our life is experiencing significant distress, we can be supportive to them but it is also important to know when to refer the person on to someone trained to help.