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It’s OK to take care of our own needs

There’s a quote I’ve seen at various points around the internet. I’m not certain who is supposed to have said it, and, quite frankly, with the internet, you never know whether the individual cited is truly the correct person anyway.

It goes: “I’m lost. I’ve gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.”

I imagine all of us experience those types of thoughts and feelings every once in a while. It’s probably been more prevalent the last couple of years. We’ve experienced a pandemic which has changed the way we live and interact with others. Some of us were out of work for some time. Those who continued to work may have found themselves taking on additional responsibilities. Traveling was discouraged, so there probably were many vacations and other plans canceled.

We may have been without our usual forms of release and relief to deal with our compounding issues. Trips out with friends were limited, if they were able to happen at all. Restaurants were usually drive-through or pick-up only. Gyms were closed or limited. Amusement parks and athletic leagues either shut down or didn’t allow spectators.

We often found ourselves confined only to our homes or places of work, stress levels building as a result of the uncertainty growing in our communities, nation and world.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty, although we’ve slowly begun to go back to some semblance of normalcy. That doesn’t mean the stress and feelings of being overwhelmed as a result of the last couple of years has necessarily gone away.

All too often, we worry about others instead of ourselves. We neglect our own needs, both physical and mental, out of worry for those around us or because we feel we are obligated to take care of something, only to realize that work will continue.

We put ourselves into an unending cycle of mental and emotional abuse at our own hands, knowing what we need to do to address it in a healthy manner, but not always willing to take those steps.

I’ve done it to myself, focusing more on my responsibilities to others and not my responsibilities to myself. I worry about how others perceive me rather than addressing how I feel about myself.

Work often takes a lot out of me, and I don’t give myself the time I need to relax, reflect and recharge so I be my best.

It’s a growing problem and one we need to be more cognizant of as we move forward. At one time, the idea of seeking help when we had some of these thoughts or feelings was looked down upon. Now we have a better understanding that we can’t always do it on our own. Sometimes, we need to talk to someone else to get a better perspective, to help us change our habits and to grow in a way that will help us to better address our own needs.

We all have our limitations. Some can be pushed through and you end up being better as a result. It’s understanding when that extra push is unhealthy that is important. We need to know that it’s OK to seek help from others, that we’re not necessarily alone in our struggles.

That help can remind us who we really are and set us on a better path in our lives.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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