Individual Therapy Sterling, VASelf Care

Google self-care strategies and you’ll find yourself a list of self-soothing tips with a bubble bath topping the list. These mini breaks from daily life are part of a healthy self care plan but if you find yourself desperate for that time every day it might be time to institute a more holistic self care plan. A holistic plan involves creating a lifestyle, as much as is possible, that you don’t need to take a break from. It involves boundary setting, time management, healthy relationships, and cultivating kindness towards yourself. I won’t lie to you. If these habits are new to you or if the major stressors involve your job or your intimate or family relationships then it’s about to get worse before it gets better. But it will get better.

If you find that your stressors are at an overwhelming high or getting close to it, I would encourage you to reach out to a counselor. We can help you to create a plan and provide the support you need to follow through. Here a few tips to get you started:

  1. Schedule an uninterrupted time of quiet, grab a pen and notebook and take stock of all the things creating stress in your life — big and small. Take breaks as needed.
  2. Look over your lists and identify what you have control over and what is out of your control. Your thoughts, behavior, response and time are largely within your control. Anyone else’s is outside of your control.
  3. Change your mindset. Often, we have self-defeating thoughts that keep us from making necessary changes. “There’s nothing I can do about it.” “I’ll never find another job/relationship.” “This is just the way marriages are.” If you find yourself frequently thinking in negative ways, reach out to a counselor. Many times those are long held beliefs that can be more stubborn and challenging to change.
  4. Start setting healthy boundaries in your relationships. Sometimes that just means saying “NO” and knowing that “No” is a full sentence. Sometimes that means stepping away from those relationships that leave you feeling exhausted, abused, or taken advantage of. Surround yourself with those who encourage you and respect your boundaries.
  5. Create a schedule. Are you constantly working overtime? Consider whether you can financially step back to a more regular schedule. Take a look at your budget to see if there’s room to consider a simpler lifestyle in exchange for more time at home. Know your employee rights if you need to have a tough conversation with the boss. Is your schedule filled with volunteer obligations that leave little time for much else? Consider which obligations you can take a step back from and trust that they will be able to find another volunteer to step in.
  6. Be kind to yourself. If you are under constant stress, chances are you struggle with setting boundaries for fear you’ll lose a relationship or that someone will be upset with you. Fluid boundaries are often an indication that we require an unhealthy amount of validation from others and that our own inner thoughts about ourselves are harsh and unforgiving. If this is you, let me just tell you that You Are Enough. Be as kind to yourself as you would expect yourself to be to others. Start noticing those negative, self-punishing thoughts and begin to change them to positive, encouraging ones. You may not believe these new beliefs just yet because chances are you have years of brainwashed negativity to recover from. But rest assured, make it a regular practice and it will become natural before you know it.

I hope these tips will be the beginning of a less stressful year new year for you.

Hannah Lindsay, MSW, provides individual and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office. Call 703-951-6409 or email hannah@lindseyhoskins.com to schedule an appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Hannah today.