Maintaining a Healthy Self

Maintaining a Healthy Self

Heather Bonnett is a licensed counselor with over 10 years experience working with individuals, couples and families. She helps those who are struggling through a variety of difficulties, including stress management, relational problems and difficulties with mood and behavior. Heather lives and practices in Medina, and has been a part of Behavioral Health Services for over 2 years.

Today women can have the complicated task of maintaining a full time career or job position while continuing to be the primary caregiver for her family. This can often mean very little time for focus on herself. Maintaining a feeling of healthy balance can be extremely difficult at times. Running a household is a full time job alone, so managing to keep it running smoothly in between an expected work schedule and children's school or extracurricular activities can seem overwhelming.

If you are fortunate to share your household duties equally with a significant other, then perhaps you have some relief. Yet still, getting personal time to engage in activities of your choosing may be hard to come by. A lack of engagement in personal time can lead to feelings of losing oneself, detachment, and even resentment towards the other members of the family. Moodiness can set in when one is not recognized for the efforts she demonstrates, and is not provided support and time she needs to maintain the level of care for the family.

These feelings and emotions can replace previous positive thoughts and responses with negative thinking, lack of motivation, and can even lead to more significant mental health symptoms we often characterize as depression, or anxiety. If not addressed, we can experience difficulties in our interactions with others - specifically our relationships with the person who is most significant in life. Ongoing untreated negative states can lead to a lack of desire for intimacy and connection with friends and family. Already dwindling social engagements can roll to a halt. The result can be a very isolated experience, laced with feelings of being overwhelmed and underappreciated.

Some things that can be incorporated in to daily and weekly activities can help to reduce the chance of experiencing this type of burnout for mothers (and fathers as well, if this situation describes you). Here are a few tips on how to reduce your daily stress, and increase feelings of control and relaxation while maintaining your level of functioning at home and at work:

  1. Keep calendars and chore schedules. Time management is the key to maintaining a feeling of control and order when you are balancing multiple responsibilities for yourself and others.
  2. Schedule exercise or yoga into your daily routine. Even if it is only for 15 minutes, having a daily self-focused activity can reset mood and motivation.
  3. Give yourself personal "time outs". Whether at work or at home, 10 minutes to regroup can reduce the effects of a whirlwind day.
  4. Talk to your significant other. Let him or her know how you are feeling and that you need some personal attention. It might help to have an idea in mind, or you can brainstorm together. If you are single, talk to a friend or family member who can help to allow you to get the time you need for yourself.
  5. Reward yourself weekly. Identify a "treat" for yourself, and reward yourself at the end of the week. You work relentlessly, and although others may not always recognize that, you can remind yourself of the efforts you have put in.

These are just a few ideas that can help one to feel that she is not losing herself in daily life. If feelings of sadness or excessive worry are ever present, talking to a professional therapist can help to provide an outlet and guide for managing stress. It is important to note that if you have a history of struggling with mental health symptoms or have experienced a traumatic event, talking with a professional is can be very helpful as we tend to be unaware of the impact on our day to day interactions and activities.

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