Dealing with stress: It’s ok to not be ok

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post, and my promise to start blogging more regularly.  Truth is, this has probably been the hardest month of my professional counseling career.  I’ve been busy, very busy.  This is a tough time of year in general for a lot of people.  The doldrums of winter, being stuck inside and short days start to catch up with everyone, including me.  Add on top of that the stress of too many hours at work, and not enough hours at home and it gets worse.  I know there are a lot of men out there that feel this way:  we’re working hard to provide for our family, and to grow professionally, but along with that comes guilt that we are not doing enough for/with our family.  I’ve relearned a few lessons I wanted to pass on real quick that have helped me out the past couple weeks as I have striven to be more healthy:

1. Take care of yourself.  I know it seems counter-intuitive.  I’m stressed because I don’t have enough time to take care of my families needs, so I need to spend less time with them and take care of myself.  Obviously, we shouldn’t do this to excess, but I’ve gotten back into the habit of taking care of myself by spending time in meditation with God and working out regularly, and it helps so much.  Yes, it may take a little time away from the family, but as a result when I am with them I am much more present and better at taking care of them.

2. Take advantage of what time you do have.  I can’t spend as much time with my kids as I would like, so the time I have spent with them I make sure is good time.  I’ve gone to a daddy-daughter dance with two of my girls.  Played Memory, played video games, had good chats, and cuddled sick kids.  I haven’t seen them as much, and I don’t like that, but the time I have spent with them has been memorable and good.  However as a result…

3. Let go of things that don’t really matter.  The house has not been cleaned as often as I’d like.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made the bed in the past month.  I didn’t blog as much as I would have liked.  I’ve had to let go of things I normally like to do because, when I’m honest with myself, they are more for me than they are for anyone else.

4. Take care of things that cause anxiety.  A couple of things were really causing me and my family a lot of anxiety.  Most notably our budget and our schedule…or lack of recent ones.  My wife and I made a concerted effort this month to put things that cause anxiety out on the table and take care of them.  Yeah, I’m still a bit anxious because we are really busy and not where we want to be, but at least now we know where we are, and have a plan to get where we want.

5. and Finally:  Give yourself grace.  I often stress myself out more because I am mad at myself for how I handle stress.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I’m not the perfect parent, husband or therapist.  As much as I wish I was I never will be.  That’s ok.  I don’t have to be, I just have to be me.  I have to do my best, and admit it when I make a mistake.  I have to ask forgiveness when I mess up, but I don’t have to beat myself up, or feel guilty.  God loves me…and if He can, I can love myself too.

just my $.02