Hi, I’m Kendra.
Several years ago, I had a scary wake-up call when I ran into some health issues related to chronic stress. The stress stemmed from a number of factors, including that one of my kids was struggling. When your child faces challenges, the demands are intense. Figuring out what’s going on and how to help, learning to advocate, and being a caregiver – day in and day out – is draining. I get it!
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Parenting a child who struggles (with anything) can be stressful. We do everything we can for our kids, but we tend to neglect ourselves along the way. How can anyone be patient, resourceful and compassionate when they’re strung out on stress?
Studies show that parents like many of us experience substantially higher levels of stress and are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than parents of children who are “unaffected”. Parents whose children have behavioral problems or more complex needs also show biological markers of chronic psychological distress, including blunted cortisol responses (stress hormones), weakened immune systems, and advanced cellular aging.
They say “take care of yourself”
We all know we’re supposed to “take care of ourselves”, but that list of to-do’s can add more stress. Even the term self-care might make you cringe. So much self-care advice is “big”: get a massage, take a vacation, meditate for 40 minutes. It all seems impossible. Too indulgent, expensive, effortful and time consuming.
Welcome to a new micro approach.
Lucky for me, years ago a wonderful integrative practitioner I know showed me her “self-care plan”. It was just 3 things she tried to do daily – on a Post it. Hers said: “think of 3 grateful things, walk around the block, get to bed by 10.” That was the beginning of a whole new way of thinking for me. Since then, I’ve learned that there are simple and practical ways to weave self-care into your day, no matter the circumstances.
After spending over ten years on a quest to restore my well-being, researching and experimenting with a range of stress management techniques, I figured out that it is possible to find ease and joy in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Daily self-nurturing micro-actions can buffer us from stress and build our resilience. I found that tapping into mindfulness techniques and questioning my thinking, as well as tweaking my lifestyle habits and connecting with friends made a huge difference.
The lesson is this: Self-care is not selfish, it’s essential. When we take care of ourselves, instead of feeling exhausted and resentful, we have energy and compassion.
It’s funny how life leads you to new and unexpected discoveries. When I graduated from Harvard Business School, I was ready to take over the world. I had in mind that I would run a media company some day. It all made sense – until it didn’t. Life took a different path, and I wouldn’t trade it.
I decided to share with you what I wish I had known at the beginning, so you can buffer yourself from stress and embrace whatever situation you’re in.
Disclaimer: The author of this site is not a physician or therapist and the ideas and suggestions on this site are not intended as a substitute for the advice of a trained professional. Consult your physician about any conditions that may require diagnosis or medical attention. The author disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this site.