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The irony isn’t lost on me. I am sitting in the Emergency waiting room with my 15 year old daughter who has confided to me that she does not trust herself to stay safe. We have been waiting for a few hours and when I decide to check my email, this is the moment I learn that I have been selected as a new blogger for Healthy Minds Canada.

This is not the first time I have taken my daughter to the hospital. As much as I wish that it wasn’t necessary, I know that when she says it is time to go, she is relying on me to make sure she gets somewhere that she will feel safe. It’s not just a promise that I’ve made to her – it is scripted right into our safety planning.

My daughter suffers from depression. And I do mean “suffers” in the strongest sense of the word. Something that we spend a great deal of time working on is her self care. This presents some challenges because as you may know, most teenagers don’t make sure they get a good night’s rest or eat healthy! Physical self care can be difficult to prioritize for teenagers. Although that area is still a work in progress, we have recognized that she is at her best when there is a deliberate effort made in the area of her emotional well-being.

Let’s be honest – how are we, as adults, ensuring we make self care a priority?

We are busy. In fact, as a society, it seems to be the social norm to respond to a simple “How are you?” with declarations of how swamped our schedules are. Perhaps we feel that we will impress people with our competing priorities. And the month of December, with the hustle and bustle, chaos and over-scheduling is an easy time to place our emotional needs on the back-burner.

So how can we learn to prioritize those needs?

It actually only takes a few moments of our day. Start out small: Take just 5 minutes to relax, listen to your favourite song, re-read an email from a good friend.

Or hold the door open for a stranger. Do something kind for someone without them knowing.

It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it makes you smile.

When we are stressed, self care is usually the last thing we think about – and yet that’s usually when we need it the most! During the holidays, our stress levels are generally higher, and emotions run higher as well. Taking the time to calm our minds and slow down our pace, even for just a few minutes can have a profound effect on our emotional well-being.

For my daughter’s self care, sometimes we go for a drive. Preferably with the windows down and the music loud (no matter the season). And if the dog is lucky, we bring him along too. Some days, the drive is enough. Others, it is a last resort. We are still finding the balance of small, regular “feel good” activities to be able to draw from and building emotional self care into a daily habit.

She is home now from the hospital and ready to start fresh. We both know that those small, regular habits of self care are what will help heal. She came home to find her bedroom filled with roses. Those short moments of joy, bringing a smile to her face – well, that, coincidentally is part of my own self-care as well.

Be well.

“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.” -Unknown

 

 

 

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