By Sue Schneider, Family & Consumer Science & Community Development Agent, Larimer County Extension
Our culture has long reinforced the idea that self-care is selfish. We are taught to wear busyness and selflessness as badges of honor. Yet unfettered commitments to our jobs, families, and communities can often leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. Our burnout shows up in physician’s offices where 75 – 90% of all visits are related to stress. We want to find magic bullets to help us manage stress when we feel our lives spinning out of control. But magic bullets don’t exist.
As we know, it can be really hard to turn around difficult circumstances in our lives. And making big changes takes time. But it is important to acknowledge that our difficult circumstances are not always the cause of our stress. Often, our reactions to our circumstances create much of our suffering. We tend to pour fuel onto our perceived difficulties when we view them with anxiety, fear, negativity, or judgement. We often catastrophize worst case scenarios, blame others or ourselves for things gone wrong, and numb ourselves to our pain through electronic devises, overwork, and substances. We turn away from our difficulties rather than leaning into them and learning what they have to teach us. In this way, we strengthen the habitual tendencies that aggravate our stress again and again.
In this video series on mindful self-care, we will explore another set of options; how to press the pause button, return to the present, work skillfully with difficulties, and prioritize our wellbeing in the midst of stressful events. We will learn how to deactivate the “habits of mind” that escalate our distress while strengthening our capacity for acceptance, self-compassion, ease, and joy. Mindful self-care means opening up space to attend to your own needs and developing health-promoting habits that serve your body, mind, and heart. Self-care takes practice and commitment. These videos can get you started by offering practical concepts and tools. Along the way, you will learn that mindfulness is not a magic bullet but rather a powerful guide for a lifelong journey back to the present.