As a mom, you feel an overwhelming responsibility to put your loved ones needs before your own and if you don’t you feel guilty about it. However, I have quickly learned that this is not productive for anyone. We have to take care of ourselves in order to be at our best to help others. That is self-care 101 right there. Right now, this is especially hard to do because it seems so selfish, but it is important to make ourselves an equal priority.
Dr. Arielle Schwartz has beautifully explained how important this balance is. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified yoga teacher, wife, and mother who lives in Boulder, Colorado. She is the founder of The Center for Resilience Informed Therapy which applies research on trauma recovery to form a strength-based approach for trauma recovery.
I hope you find her message below as helpful as I did. Love yourselves and take care of yourselves.
Giving and Receiving: Balanced Living in Unbalanced Times by Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Covid-19 has led many of us around the world to experience feelings of shock and confusion. This collective crisis has disrupted our orientation to the world as we have known it. Many of us have also been called into service. Healthcare workers have been asked to show up on the frontlines, treating patients who struggle for their lives. First responders are working around the clock to protect the public and slow the spread. Many therapists and healers have felt called to serve others by providing online therapy, support groups, yoga, and meditation. However, most common are the countless other individuals who are balancing out caring for children or aging parents while also working from home.
During any demanding time, it is important to ensure that we are not abandoning ourselves for the sake of taking care of others. Sadly, this is not being modeled as we are living in an unbalanced time. We see healthcare providers working without necessary PPE to protect their own lives. Our first responders are being exposed and infected while on duty. And, we are navigating nearly impossible roles with our families.
If we do not find a balance between taking care of own needs and attending to the needs of others, then we are more likely to develop caregiver stress or burnout. We are more likely to get sick or feel depleted. Sacrificing our own needs can lead us to become short tempered and reactive with our children or spouses. Part of what contributes to the imbalance is when an urgency to take care of others is motivated by fear. This can lead us to feel keyed up with anxiety and stress. We might feel the need to be a “supermom” or dad or we may feel a need to be in control. As a result, we might resist feeling our own vulnerable emotions.
In contrast, a balanced approach to taking care of others ensures that you also take care of yourself. You can think of the oxygen mask metaphor; make sure you put on your own mask before helping others. It can help to regularly check in with your own body, mind, and emotions which will help you recognize and address you own needs. Having sufficient support and robust self-care routines can serve as buffers in a time of global crisis.This might come in the form of having enough time for exercise, meditation, or therapy. Or, it might require that you reach out to a co-worker, friend, family member, or therapist for support.
You might find that giving is more familiar or comfortable than receiving. Receiving involves slowing down and feeling; which asks you to get in touch with your emotions. Turning toward your discomfort is necessary and important. Even though you might want to run away, explore the resources that help you to lean into the uncomfortable places.
In truth, giving your gifts to others and receiving from others are two deeply interwoven actions. Receiving and unconditionally accepting another person is, in itself, a caring act of giving. Likewise, allowing yourself to receive care from another person allows that person to give the gift of caring to you. This exchange of giving and receiving can allow you to realize how deeply connected we are to each other and how much we truly need each other.
Attending to our sadness, anger, fear is part of the path forward. Reach out, for we are not meant to move through this alone. Perhaps, this is part of the lesson of covid-19. We are a collective. We are deeply connected to each other. We are here to give and receive from each other. Perhaps our current world crisis has been the catalyst to help us remember the inseparable relationship between our own personal happiness and the wellbeing of others.
If you love Dr. Schwartz’s messages like I do, check out the books she has written!