As the summer comes to a close and the new school year begins, it’s common for parents and students to feel the stress of transitions and new routines. With these freshly elevated stress levels, people may feel some associated distress in their physical, mental, emotional, and social lives.
The most effective way to combat the negative experiences that accompany too much stress is to engage in daily practices of self-care.
Self-care: The easiest concept to comprehend, but at times impossible to maintain. This can feel particularly true at the beginning of a new school year. With calendars filling up quickly and one new experience after the next, the time we take to reflect on our well-being tends to fall to the bottom of the priority list.
When it comes to self-care, an important concept to remember is the instructions you would hear from any good flight attendant: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”
We cannot be the best version of ourselves if we are not taking the time to tend to our needs first. Self-care should not be viewed as selfish or another task to check off our to-do list. It is an activity or practice we engage in to reduce stress, enhance our well-being, and take care of ourselves.
Self-care practices are different for everyone. These are eight general areas to explore to find what feels the most effective for you:
1. Physical (exercise, diet, sleep)
2. Psychological (mindfulness and creativity)
3. Emotional (developing compassion for oneself and others)
4. Social (carving out time to spend with loved ones)
5. Professional (creating clear professional boundaries)
6. Environmental (organizing and de-cluttering our work space)
7. Spiritual (engaging in your values and beliefs)
8. Financial (budgeting and creating a conscious relationship with money)
Take time in the month of September to find self-care strategies that are meaningful to you. Make the effort to incorporate at least one area of self-care into your daily schedule. The key to good relationships with others and managing our lives is a good relationship with ourselves.