Recently I found myself sneaking to our back freezer with my spoon in hand. Work had been terrible, my relationship status was not what I wanted it to be, I hadn't exercised all week, and to top it off I had forgotten to put on makeup that day, so to the freezer I went. As I opened the ice cream and tried to stick my spoon into the deliciousness ... I heard a noise and instantly froze.
I was the only one home, but I still felt like I had to sneak to give myself a treat. Why?
We all have stressful days and as we grow older, they seem to happen more and more. But we're not taught how to correctly handle that stress. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we have been taught that we should not take care of ourselves. When we feel stressed we've been trained to bury these feelings instead of addressing our stressors, breathing and taking time for yourself.
Sure, there are self-care articles out there, but for some reason, letting friends know you took off an afternoon for yourself isn't as im#pressive as mentioning how you fit in a workout, your art class, a cute date and got around to the laundry before making dinner for a neighbor.
This needs to stop
I know I shouldn't necessarily turn to food to make my problems better, but as I ate my ice cream that night, I realized I felt shame for giving myself a break. In such a culture of overachievement and to-do lists, we need to remember we're not robots. We deserve to take a break - a guilt-free one.
Here are three things to do when you are feeling guilty for taking care of yourself:
1. You are worth it
We often feel guilty about taking care of ourselves because we feel like we aren't worth it. But it is important to remember that "shame is a lie someone told you about yourself" You are worth being taken care of! We take preventative measures for our physical health by going to the doctor, getting the flu shot, and washing our hands. We should treat mental health with the same preventative care so that we don't burn out.
Whether it is sneaking ice cream, playing a game on your phone or coloring in your adult coloring book, it's important to take time to relax. We will make better decisions if we are not making them when we are tired, overworked and stressed.
3. Turn to those you love
When we are stressed, depressed or angry we often think the best thing is to go on alone. This is not true. While taking time for yourself can mean scheduling out along time, it's also crucial to spend time with those we love (even if you don't feel like it). They want to be with you too and they want to help, you just have to take down your walls. Rearrange your schedule, put down your phone and actually talk face to face with the people you love.
Another thing to do is analyze how long you have been feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. If you have been having these feelings for longer than six months please consider discussing your mental health with a professional. Those who love you will not judge you for getting professional help and together we can change the stigma of mental health care.
So go ahead grab that spoon, head to the freezer and take care of yourself.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.