Being a psychology major and now a school psychologist, I am naturally drawn to ideas of mental and emotional health. Deep breathing, imagery, muscle relaxation...these are all things that I am familiar with and may recommend to students. But it is something entirely different to help take care of other people emotionally and to take care of yourself emotionally.
This lesson hit hard this morning, when I find myself at work, bawling.
There have been some hard things lately. I have spent a month trying to get the right prescription for my contacts, and not being able to see clearly in the process. This affects my eyes. I woke up with an insane ear ache last weekend, and have since tried several remedies--earache drops, warm compresses, cool compresses, ear wax drops, flushing my ear with water, Tylenol. While I did get a nice chunk of ear wax out, I still haven't been able to hear in my right ear since the weekend. Clearly, this affects my ears. Then this morning, I woke up with a cold, thus affecting my nose and ability to breathe and smell. When three of your five senses are compromised, it really affects your ability to function as a human. On top of these somewhat common physical ailments that have beset me, I am 7.5 months pregnant. Most of me loves being pregnant, especially at this stage-there is nothing better than feeling your baby kick and squirm inside of you. But to be honest, pregnancy comes with it's own set of struggles, even when you enjoy it. You don't fit into most clothes and feeling beautiful can be challenging. You don't move as easily as you want or are used to. And you just don't have the energy you would like to, because you are growing a tiny human!! Then there is also the emotional aspect of this pregnancy. I have understandably been more anxious with this pregnancy. Each day we get closer to meeting him, but also closer to potentially losing him. That thought is never far from my mind and my heart, and it is exhausting. I also like to think that the hormones have been a touch on the extreme side this time around, but it also may just all be grief.
You are getting the picture- Physically and emotionally, I was exhausted, and unfortunately, this all came out this morning when I got to work :) Luckily, I work with incredibly empathetic and kind people who convinced me I needed to go home (it might've just been that they were embarrassed for my red, splotchy, post-crying face, but we'll assume it was empathy).
Before I left, one of my coworkers reminded me that I need to remember to breathe, and be mindful of the things I am feeling. This really hit me as truth, because I know I have not been as mindful as I should have been. I have let myself feel overwhelmed with life and dealt with it by going through the motions-wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, maybe exercise if I'm feeling ambitious, go to sleep, repeat. That is not the recipe for happiness.
My extreme reaction to waking up with cold symptoms is a manifestation that I have not been dealing with my emotions healthily lately. So after I went to the doctor and got recommendations for my ear, I came home, took a hot shower, did yoga, drank tea, went for a walk, and took a nap. Most of these things I can do every day (except the nap...), but it is usually easier to lay on the couch and numb your mind than do something proactive that awakens your mind! The downside is when you pay for it with large, embarrassing emotional breakdowns in front of your coworkers :)
The lesson learned is that while being an adult is crazy challenging, I can help myself by being more proactive in my self-care measures. I know doing yoga and going for walks and writing and taking a break from media helps me feel peace. Now I just need to follow through with these things!