It's only been one day after Christmas, and I'm already hearing about all the new healthy ways to de-stress and start the new year off right by loving and pampering yourself in order to give to others. I honestly didn't see where this advice worked for me or for anyone else trying to cope with stress or overworking. And through the years I'm learning more of how this advice might be misunderstood by some of us. There are reasons I believe this and why the opposite seems truer to me, that serving others will bring us greater peace and less stress and will sustain us all for years to come.
Today there is much talk and suggestions made to women who are the caretakers, suggesting that they need to take care of themselves before taking care of anyone else. But this idea of pampering oneself to de-stress seems to have gotten out of balance, including advice found in blogs. And own my blog is yet another suggestion. The truth is that these ideas don't hold any long-standing solutions or fulfillment but only promote searching for more fixes. Too many stressed-out people are being guided by professionals who advise them to think of themselves first as a way of getting them through their stresses. But this is only a quick fix. The stress or imbalance most of us are experiencing comes from our being self-absorbed. And doing something only for yourself to get through it isn't going to fix the problem for those around you. Nor will it bring you to a better place once you've fixed whatever it was because following this "me-first" advice will only add to your to-do list.
I'd like to suggest something that's been working for me: I try starting the day with fulfilling the needs of those around me first. I think of it as my job. But I also learned to think of it as a privileged responsibility that brings happiness to us, and to our children, spouses, parents, siblings, and friends. Only then are we free to take part in self-fulfillment activities to de-stress ourselves!
Taking this "others-first" approach might be a new way of doing things for the new year to get you out of an old pattern that hasn't been working for you. This technique benefits everyone and produces the least regrets. Here's a simple approach that works for me: Whenever I'm stressed from giving all the time, or always serving others, or working too much, I first check to see if I've met all my responsibilities as a mother, wife, sister, and friend. And if I've done a kindness and service to everyone who needs it, realizing this gives me an immediate release to enjoy any healthy pleasure or activity or to simply get away just to be with myself. And if I find I haven't met one or more obligation, I immediately attend to whatever it is, thereby releasing endorphins without a trip to the spa! In fact, by that point, I'm usually feeling so good that I don't need an outside fix.
People who've taken professional advice to attend to their own needs first have misunderstood what this means, and sadly, every one suffers as a result. Here's just one example: A beautiful, young, over-worked mother with a houseful of children and an incredibly supportive husband once told me how she keeps a healthy balance of nutrition and exercise by eating lots of salads, jogging every morning in the fresh crisp air, or going to a yoga class. She may even get her nails or hair done to keep her spirits lifted. She's also an avid reader of inspirational books and a health-care professional. But despite her efforts, her young children and her overworked husband are stressed out, trying to meet additional responsibilities while she indulges herself. To me, everyone in that house is struggling, including the young mom.
So be mindful of how to follow the advice of attending to the self to de-stress for health and happiness in the new year. Putting others first might just be the advice you're looking for in this new year, which may just bring you the best year ever, instead of just another fix.
Happy New Year 2015!
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's
works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom. http://www.amazon.com/Imprinted-Wisdom-Catherine-Nagle/dp/145256938X