The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for medical or mental health treatment.
Some people are just lucky enough to be able to immediately pull themselves up (by any number of straps, boots or otherwise) out of a negative state of mind and get back on the Straight and Narrow™, but for the rest of us, thankfully there's something called Self Care. No, it's nothing new-agey (though new-agey stuff can be extremely helpful), it's just what the words say: caring for self. Taking time for ourselves, come what may, hell or high water. Sometimes damning responsibilities, obligations, work, and even previously made plans in effort to simply give ourselves a moment to breathe freely.
There's nothing like the moment we realize we've been going as fast as we can, as hard as we can, non stop, for days or weeks. We wonder why we need to bribe ourselves to work or meet someone new, why we find ourselves internally shaming our clients, or why we sometimes shame ourselves. When it all comes down to it, we can't keep going full speed without stopping... unless we want to be stopped by crisis, be it mental, physical, or emotional.
But that isn't always easy to remember, and it's even harder to put into action sometimes. Between bills, family, obligations, responsibilities, and even simply picking up things you want or going out on the town, it can get pretty hard to walk away from the possibility of extra cash in your pocket. So how does it work? What can we do when it seems like taking a break is a really detrimental move to your life flow? How can you keep the dreaded Burn Out at bay when all you can see are the newest responsibilities in your mailbox or living room?
- One of the easiest (and, arguably, most beneficial) ways is to simply watch your breathing.
From Livestrong: "Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body. Endorphins are those feel-good, natural painkillers created by our own bodies... Learning a few techniques and taking just a few moments each day to practice some deep breathing exercises can decrease stress, relax your mind and body and help you sleep better."
Deep breathing is EASY! You don't need to take classes (unless you want to) and you don't need to be in a group to get started. In fact, you can get in some comfortable clothes and watch videos on Youtube from people like Dr. Harden, Anmol Mehta, AnandaYoga, and others to try out different techniques and get yourself ready for some deep breathing action. There are a host of videos on different types of breathing and even different types you can incorporate into a yoga practice. Deep breathing is a Truly Essential Exercise, from stimulating your lymphatic system to relaxing every muscle in your body, you can do yourself a world of good by taking 15 minutes to simply sit and breathe deeply.
- You can make sure to have Friendship Time.
From WebMD: "And the companionship provided by friends may ward off depression, boost self-esteem, and provide support. Also, as people age, they may become more selective in their choice of friends, so they spend more time with people they like."
Friends help good habits stick, increase your longevity, and (of course) enhance the quality of your life and more! But it's more than having someone to go for cosmos with while you gossip about the local delivery guy's, er... best assets. It's about cultivating relationships with people who don't judge you for this entertainer's lifestyle we live; And that's hard to do, isn't it? It's really difficult to find people who simply accept you for who you are, not what you do (but the best friends will accept it and support you, as well) and that's where cultivation comes in to the equation.
But, before we get to cultivating, why is it really so important to have friends you can talk to about anything? Friends give us a place in the world. They give us a particular sense of belonging, of not being solitary, of not being alone in what we face in our lives. A good friend can do more for you than hold a conversation, good friends can do things for us that neither party even realizes is going on at the time.
From MayoClinic: "Friends can also: ...
- Boost your happiness
- Reduce stress
- Improve your self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one"
But how do we find friends? When we're usually alone (or if we're working with others, it is usually with a sense of competition) and pretty isolated from talking about the "dirty details" of our lives, lifestyles, and workdays? One of the easiest ways is: Social Media. From Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Reddit (and many, many more), there are entertainers of all types who have bandied together to meet, support, encourage and even commiserate with other escorts and entertainers around the world. Community is so very important not only for the alleviation of feelings of isolation, but also because inside the community, you're sure to find someone you can connect with and cultivate a deep and lasting friendship with, simply because you both know you already have a lot in common with each other.
- Try making some goals - and posting notes around your space to remind you of them
From SmallBusiness.Chron.Com: "Without goals to guide you, you may develop a tendency to jump from one project or task to another instead of focusing on the most important needs of your business."
Setting goals can be about achievements, yes, but it can also be about alleviating the sense of worry, discomfort, or dread that can be associated with unforseen occurrences in our lives! Think about it: don't you feel more secure when you think, "Ok. I knew this might happen. I'm prepared." Than when you're blindsided by something? Well, of course you do! We all do. That's where setting goals comes in handy. When you set goals, you also think of contigencies for things that may come up without warning. You're ready for those things, so you don't have to stress. You don't have to stay up at night clicking that calculator over and over - you're ready.
So where do the notes come in handy? Notes can be used for reminders, but they can also be used for encouragement. Make a note with your goal written on top in bold, and leave some space for updates. Say you're saving up for that trip abroad you've always wanted to take, yes? Well this is the time where being prepared, having a goal, reminding yourself, and encouraging yourself come together to help you succeed - and reduce your stress. You're able to walk past your note every day and see where you're at, where you're going, and how you're going to get there; All in one glance. Breathe easy (and deeply), you're prepared.
- Get your DANCE on, get your SING on, be your own MUSIC superstar
It's been proven time and time that music helps us in more ways than getting our pitch on point. Singing and dancing around your living room can give you a good workout, and you can join classes in your area (there's that community and friendship building again) if that's your thing.
From AARP: "On a more physical level, dancing can give you a great mind-body workout. Researchers are learning that regular physical activity in general can help keep your body, including your brain, healthy as you age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. And dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences boosts brain power by improving memory skills."
But it's more than just a physical workout (though exercise has also been proven to boost moods and alleviate negative feelings and thought processes), singing and dancing can help you get your mind off of immediate problems and worries. Taking a load off and gyrating around your living room for 15 minutes to the hottest jams on the billboard charts (the previous 5 links are some rockin' dance tunes on YouTube!) can take you out of a negative loop easily. Get your blood pumping and sing your heart out for a little while. Step out of your worries and just enjoy the beat. Step away from your obligations for a few minutes and sing like you're auditioning to be America's Next Top Shower Chanteuse. Playing music, singing along, and dancing to it can help your body and your mind.
- Don't forget your "Me Time"
From PsychologyToday: "... Couple that with the guilt that many people, especially women, experience when they manage to find a few moments of time for themselves, and it becomes clear why so many people feel that finding time for themselves isn't worth the effort. But worth the effort it is, and not only because of the personal benefits you'll reap. Alone time has interpersonal benefits as well."
A wise woman once told me: 'You can't give what you don't have.'
If you're exhausted, angry, disillusioned, sad, overwhelmed, and stressed, you won't have any positivity left to share with clients or coworkers. You can't pull positivity out of nowhere and if your reservoir is depleted, what's left to do? Take an afternoon just for you. Turn your phone off (if you can), unplug from incessantly pressing refresh on your browser to see who's sent you messages, and let your facebook friends know you'll be back tomorrow (or at least, later tonight). Pick a DVD you love but haven't watched in a while, or a book you've been dying to read, and get to it.
Run a warm bath and throw some fragrance oil and good stuff in, turn on your favorite relaxing music or your movie, and just be. We sometimes forget what it's like to just sit and exist. We forget what it's like to not go full speed, all day, every day. We forget what it's like to just listen to the wind in the trees or feel warm water on our skin. But all of that? It's "Me Time", and you need it. You should have it. You deserve it.
Self care isn't about being indiscriminately selfish, it's about needing to pay attention to self, so you can keep doing all the things you want to do. Take some time for you, get yourself in balance, and get ready to meet your goals head on. You can do it - but don't forget to do some things for yourself along the way.
Slixa staff extends a warm welcome to Oaxa, our newest blog contributor!