July 21, 2024
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You Can Have a Saucer, You Know

Perhaps an odd thing to say, but not so much if you are English and know that cups have to come with a saucer. My sister-in-law said this to me when I was last home. I was about to have my cappuccino in a cup without a saucer. Coffee, not tea? What kind of English person is this? Well I am one of those rare English persons who does not like tea at all, although it is not why I left England.

Anyway, I thought a lot about that comment in the weeks that followed. It resonated in a strange way. Yes, I do deserve a saucer; and yes, allowing myself a saucer says that I deserve to take care of myself, and yes, I got all that from an offhand comment. Actually it got me thinking about how as mums (sorry, I have to use the English spelling), we often put ourselves last. The children’s schedules, work, husbands, friends, all come first. When are we our number one priority? As a therapist, I try to encourage my clients to work on carving out “me” time, to spend time enjoying something that is relaxing and to have down time to rejuvenate so that they have energy to complete all the tasks they undertake.

I know dads are super involved as well, but mums still seem to be the primary schedulers and worriers when it comes to childcare and home life.

Being a mum has changed over time. If you were a wealthy English person a few generations ago, you only saw your children briefly until they were old enough to be shipped off to boarding school. I can actually hear parents of teenagers reading this saying, “Sign me up, that’s amazing.” Relax, the teenage years do pass eventually; just buckle up and buy shares in a vineyard. (As a therapist I am not advocating becoming an alcoholic, but a nice chardonnay…). These days kids are perhaps overly involved, in so many activities that are great for them but often mean a mum who is stretched thin running to fit it all in. Result: a mum who is stressed out, irritable and miserable. If you are working outside the home, and making yourself available for everyone in your life other than yourself, then something has to give.

Your central nervous system (CNS) runs your “fight or flight” response. Your adrenal glands then release adrenaline and cortisol. When the perceived fear or stressor is gone, the CNS should reset; if it doesn’t, it takes a toll on your body.

Symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, anxiety and depression. You may suffer from headaches, insomnia, alcohol or drug abuse or social withdrawal. Excessive amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Some studies have suggested a link between stress and the development of certain cancers.

Well, by now I have probably depressed you completely and that glass of chardonnay is looking jolly good but don’t despair, there are things you can do to handle stress and take care of yourself. It comes back to the title of this article. You have to respect yourself enough to believe you are entitled to have that saucer. You are entitled to make time for yourself.

What are some things you can do to claim your saucer? Eating well is a good start. Take time to have a good breakfast without your foot halfway out the door. Tell yourself, “I need to take care of myself and respect my body so I will eat healthy foods to ‘fuel my engine’ and keep me running.”

Positive self-talk can be very helpful. Exercise at least three times a week. A walk around the block or running stairs 10 times in a row are freebies. The endorphins you release will help you feel energized and help your insomnia and cardiovascular system.

Have a hobby you have neglected for a while? Squeeze in time to pick it back up.

Consider meditation and mindfulness: Focus on the here and now, not constantly worrying or planning for later. Try the Pacifica App or the Headspace App to get you started. I’m a little biased about Headspace because of the English accents!

Prayer can be a meaningful meditative and spiritual practice. If you find yourself rushing through your prayers then try slowing down; visualize each word as you say it.

SLEEP, in capital letters because it is a necessity, not a luxury. The health.com website lists 11 health benefits of sleep. Make time to get to bed at a reasonable time without TV, devices or a snoring spouse. Okay, maybe you can’t kick your spouse out of the bedroom but invest in good-quality earplugs.

One of my favorite ways to combat stress is laughter. It’s free, and the health benefits are immeasurable. Laughter and humor can improve your immune system by releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses” (Mayo Clinic website). It can relieve pain because “laughter causes the body to release its own natural painkillers.” Make a point to find something that tickles your funny bone everyday. Movies and TV shows, comic strips and books, or hang out with funny friends and relatives.

If your stress levels are so high that you are feel completely overwhelmed, then of course seek out a qualified therapist.

So, do you respect yourself enough to make sure you have a saucer?

I’ve claimed my right to have a saucer and my morning cappuccino has never looked better, or more refined.

By June Mandeville-Kamins, LCSW, LMSW

 June Mandeville-Kamins, LCSW, LMSW, has been a social worker for over 25 years and maintains a private practice in Teaneck. She has worked with children, adolescents and adults in a variety of settings including mental health clinics and schools. Specialties include CBT, DBT skills and Transformational Chairwork. June can be reached at 201-552-1765 or [email protected].

 

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