Work, or my relationship with it, is one of the central challenges to my quest for better self-care and stress management. As I was on the long journey to find healing from chronic pain and illness, I realized how much impact I could have in the healing process. I learned the role that stress plays in making us more vulnerable to injury and how relaxation facilitates our bodies self-healing ability. I now understand that our eating, sleeping and exercise habits also contribute to our stress levels and our ability to heal. When I was not able to work, while that itself was stressful, I had the time to relax, take walks, fix healthy meals and generally focus on myself. When I do that my symptoms diminish and become manageable. Then I happily return to work and find it difficult to put taking care of myself first. Self-care very quickly and easily returns to the bottom of the list. So my ongoing challenge is to create balance in my life. I don’t think it is only my challenge, since I live in an overstressed society. However, because I have chronic health problems, it has become a critical issue earlier in life and is something I cannot ignore when my pain levels other symptoms increase.
So I continue to wrestle with this work vs. self-care dynamic. I hungrily seek and consume resources about work, spirituality and stress management. As the old marketing adage goes, I often need to hear things more than once to really get my attention. One of the blogs I like to read is Surviving the Workday: How to use spirituality at work. I noticed a recent post about Beliefnet’s Top Ten Quick Ways to Pray, but didn’t read it until I received one of my daily Beliefnet emails highlighting the same article. I like the ideas for ways to weave a spiritual focus into your daily life. Focus is a big part of stress and shifting your focus to relaxing and uplifting thoughts, rather than ruminating about your endless to-do list or other stressors, helps your body and spirit to heal and be well.