Why do we mistreat the ones we love the most?
Why can we suck it up at work and give excellent customer service, we smile at the patient that cussed us out, encourage the student that asks the same question three days in a row only to come home and scream at our own kids, give our spouse the cold shoulder, and ignore the dog? And if we work in a profession such as law enforcement or nursing or therapy where we are chronically exposed to trauma how does that affect our relationships?
Secondary trauma coupled with being overworked and underappreciated takes a toll.
However, the answer is not necessarily trying harder to be kind to our family and friends.
The answer is working harder to be kind to ourselves, and it will spill over to our loved ones.
Seriously, we need to take self-care seriously.
Exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, busyness could be signs that you need a new job, or a new spouse or a new kid; or they could be signs that you need to be more intentional about caring for yourself and the issues you have in your relationships will get better.
I am not talking about the “me” generation and the self-involved qualities associated with it. I am saying take a break every day. Save some hours in the day for you and have fun. Be intentional about saying no. Be intentional about putting your oxygen mask on first, so you can save others.
I work with victims of violent crime and the first responders that help them. First responders are the heroes of this century, and discounts at retail stores are great, but they won't fight depression and PTSD. First responders need to acknowledge that they need help.
Anyone that takes care of others needs to recognize that they will eventually burn out without intentional, consistent self-care. Peer support, being realistic with our schedules, having a full day of rest every week, spirituality, healthy eating, and exercise is a start to self-care and consequently to better relationships. Before you have date night to work on your strained relationship get a good night sleep, take a walk alone and process your feelings. Talk to someone that understands.
These decisions to put your needs first will make your capacity to withstand the trauma or stress increase and the side effects decrease.
If you, someone you know, or your organization could benefit from strategies for how to implement self-care our team is able to help! We have many services, from trainings and workshops to self-mediation and consultations. Contact us today to see how we can care for you by caring for yourself!