Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

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This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Educational_Program_Day_37

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.

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