*Three Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
Several years ago I used to treat myself to a massage about once a month. I loved the quiet of no distractions for an hour and of course also the therapeutic benefits for my body. Pretty regularly the masseuse would say my upper back was very, very tight. This is where I physically hold most of my stress in my body. One masseuse even commented my upper back felt like a “cement block.”
I used to carry those words like a badge of honor! My life must be so hard, so challenging, and I’m under so much stress that my back is as hard as a cement block. It made me feel like a total badass.
Then I realized that is bonkers! Why was having a stressful life something to be proud of? Why would anyone choose to live under all of the weight and discomfort (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) of that much stress? And why was having poor coping skills something I interpreted with self-admiration?
Our culture celebrates being busy. It rewards having a full schedule. The idea of sitting on the couch (aka being a couch potato) is scoffed at by many. And when you are fed these messages regularly through various vehicles, it’s hard to not let them sink in. It’s hard to not believe this is what everyone should be striving for – a life filled with activities and interactions constantly working to achieve the next best thing with little to no time to rest or recharge.
As I’ve found my way through COVID and everything else that has happened over the past year, I know I haven’t handled or coped with the stress as well as I would have liked. But I’ve also made every effort to treat myself with grace, to permit myself, at times, to simply survive and not constantly push myself to thrive. I’ve developed routines and outlets to help me better cope with the stress and uncertainty of this time.
I’ve decided my new badge of honor is good coping skills. Not feeling the ache in my back every few days earns me another badge. It signals that, rather than living a life full of stress, I’m coping and responding to my circumstances in a way that is sustainable and effective.
So when I decide I need a day on the couch watching trash tv, I remember to tell myself I’m resting and recharging rather than being lazy. I treasure my 9:00 p.m. bedtime to honor my body and mind’s need for rest. I don’t guilt myself for saying no or even cancelling a Zoom date with friends because my mind just needs quiet. And the pride I feel now is all about my coping skills (and no longer having a back as tight as a cement block)!
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Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.