Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Hug for Us!

Mary did a wonderful post entitled "Hug a Kid Today"and that is so true. But while we're at it let's give ourselves a "Hug", too! I have been reading articles on stress reduction and the main theme running through them is taking some "me" time.

How would you describe yourselves? As women, most of us would say caregiver or something along that line. We take care of family...children, grown children, grandchildren and even parents. We take care of the home, the pets , the bills, and our job. We feel responsible for all of these things. No one else can do what we do...do it as well. And there in lies the stress factor!

One of my dearest friends was told a few years back that she needed to de-stress her life. She replied it would be easy if she could "divorce her husband, adopt her kids out, and quit her job!" I think that would work for the most of us. Less drastic measures can be taken however according to Tena Tessina Phd and author of "The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty".

Her first suggestion is to enlist the troops. Make a list of chores and let each family member pick two to do each week, then post the list. Even the busiest member to the smallest child can help. That brings up the but it's not done right argument. Don't sweat the small stuff! Given practice and praise and a lessening of standards it will be fine. Actually, the choree will develop a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being more a part of the family and team! Before you realize it you will discover you do have support.

Her second suggestion, ring in relaxation. She proposes setting an alarm twice a day to remind you to relax. Take a stroll even if it is just around the house or office. Meditate or say a mantra. Do yoga or try a deep breathing exercise. Five minutes, two times a day is enough to clear your head and raise your energy level.

Marion Somers PhD of Brookdale Centeron Aging offers advice on dealing with elderly parents. For many of us in the "sandwich" generation this is a considerably cause of stress. We should allow someone else to do at least three tasks a week. This can be another relative, a friend or even a paid helper. This allows more time spent directly interacting with the parent and more time for yourself. You will feel less guilty and less stress by knowing things are getting done while you have spent quality time with them.

She also recommends setting more attainable goals. Instead of thinking I need to get the garden cleaned up from fall, say I could clean one bed today after lunch. I need to get this house organized could be I will tackle a cabinet a day.

Another of her ideas is to start with calm. Set the tone for the day by taking fifteen minutes each morning for me time. Read a book, take a walk, enjoy the birds or again, meditate. If we can devote twelve hours a day to others, we can enjoy fifteen minutes for ourselves.

Anne Coscarelli PhD director of the Ted Mann Family Resource Center at ULCA offers several tips. Tip one is to reframe stress. If you have a harrowing commute turn it into a time of rejuvenation. Listen to a book you haven't had time to read. You can rent most anything in audio form. I have done this on long trips and it is amazing how many I could hear that I just couldn't get to any other time. While waiting for appointments take along a book or the mail, or even your knitting. Ten or fifteen minute blocks of time are long enough to accomplish many tasks.

Embracing No is probably the hardest of her suggestions. The old saying, if you want something done...give it to a busy person, is for many of us our maxim. We say yes to any and everything that comes our way whether it is work or family or community. Is this something I really want or need to take on? I have used the" will it matter in ten minutes, a week, or next month" method. By saying no more (and the task will be done by someone!) we free up time to do what we really want, to enjoy the people that matter to us, and to give us more me time.

So if it takes an alarm clock or inking in places on our calendars for me, we need to carve out time to nurture ourselves. In the long run, our family, loved ones, work and ourselves will benefit.

Now just do it!


Beth said...

That is some very good advice. As women why do we feel so guilty taking time for ourselves? It's something I've been trying to work on lately and you provided some good guidelines.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I used to feel guilty for doing things for myself but I have changed over the years.

I started out slow. I told myself just 15 minutes. It was difficult at first to carve out that 15 minutes just for self. I have become a professional at it now. ;)

Many times those 15 mintues turn into an hour or so. You know what?? All that is necessary gets accomplished and I feel better about it all.

So I highly recommend my 15 minute beginnnig to what ever endeavor you pursue.

Carol D. O'Dell said...

Thanks for your good advice. I like the "let someone do three things for you a week." Caregivers need to do that--I know that as a sandwich generation-er with my mom on one side, my kids and marriage on the other, that I still had to make myself let go a little bit and allow for others to give to me!

My mother had a great sense of humor and she used to sing this great little ditty--(perfect for us women)
It goes:
"I love me, I love me, I'm wild about myself!"

~Carol D. O'Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon

beckie said...

Beth it is hard for us isn't it? I think we were still of the generation of women that were taught that to be care givers was our main lot in life. But we are learning:)

Lisa, good for you!! And it does get easier after you get some practice. Oh how hard to start though.

Carol, thanks for stopping by. Some of us are double decker sandwiches as we also have grandkids too.(I have 7 grand girls!)I have my dad and my mother-i-law and before that my grandmother. You are so right about letting go and letting others do.

I shall teach my "girls" your mom's song. It says what I want them to feel about themselves!

Nourishing Relationships said...

Great post, so full of practical ideas. The notion of breaking a task into smaller segments or taking a few minutes for ourselves a couple of times a day not only makes sense - it leads to feelings of calm and success that can then be built on. By incremental steps, we can grow to take as good care of ourselves as we do of others.