Caring for one’s self in the midst of major changes | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

As I write this, I’m in a state of in-betweens.


I’m in between moving jobs, from doing part-time and freelance work, to now, at the cusp of hitting my second adulthood, going back into full-time work. In the same breath, I’m in the midst of moving homes, from living in the suburbs, to right smack in the urban zone. In many ways it feels like a new beginning, and rather than stress myself out, I’m trying to enjoy every moment of this major transition.


I suppose it all depends on your attitude and the value you place on self-care. In the hierarchy of stressors based on the online Holmes and Stress scale, I scored a 174, which is the middle range. Scores such as mine indicate that there is a “moderate to high” likelihood that I will fall ill due to stress in the near future. A score of 300 and above jacks up the stakes for illness-related stress, while a score of 150 and below is desirable. My all-time high was at 213 the year my son died. Although the stress scale is inconclusive, it’s good to have a peg from time to time of where you are on the stress scale so that you know where you are, and that you can do something about it.


It all boils down to self-care really. The ideal of carving out “me” time in order to take care of yourself. You cannot take care of each other well if you do not take care of yourself, or leave something for yourself. This is something I had to learn the hard way in my late 30s and early 40s when my body would keep bogging down with one thing or another due to the many stressors in my life that I refused to acknowledge or pay attention to.


Now I know so much better, and I listen to my body more. The body is our wisest barometer; when we learn to listen to it, to give it what it needs, truly love and respect it, then we are rewarded with good health.


4 self-care practices


In the midst of these mega transitions, I’ve stuck to practicing these four self-care practices that have been my default in times of major change.


First, I make sure to give myself a personal holiday.


In between the job change, and moving furniture, I took a day off and checked myself into the Crimson Hotel in Alabang. Coming from a business trip in Butuan where I had a first-hand glimpse of how rewarding, energizing, but yes, fast-paced the new work environment was going to be, I went straight from the airport to Crimson. That evening, I gave myself the peace and quiet my heart and mind had been craving for the last several weeks.


I made certain to open all my windows to the most breath-taking view of the city one can find in the south of Manila and gave myself the best eight hours of sleep I’ve had in a long while. I swear the beds at Crimson must have drugs because slumber that evening was pretty deep and I woke up completely refreshed.


The night before, I set my alarm to 5 a.m. to make certain that I would catch the sunrise from my window as it gently peeped through the clouds and painted a palette of pink and blue over a tranquil Laguna de Bay.


Lunch that day was spent in the company of dear high school friends who keep me grounded and never fail to bring laughter to my days. This, the personal holiday was less than 24 hours but it was enough to energize me for the rest of the days ahead.


Second, I take walks, lots of it. You need to keep the body moving so that the stress does not stay in the body and become somatized. When physical symptoms are caused by mental or emotional factors it is called somatization. For example, many people have occasional headaches caused by mental stress. But, stress and other mental health problems can cause many other physical symptoms, for example, chest pains, tiredness, dizziness, back pain, feeling sick.


Normally, the somatization will manifest itself in an area closely related to the emotional issue. If the problem has something to do with speaking up, the throat area will be affected; if the issue has to do with love or relationships, the breasts (for women), the chest area, or the heart is where the symptoms may be felt. So get yourself into a routine of movement—gentle walks, slow runs, biking, hiking, dancing—whatever keeps your heart pumping or moving. Exercise releases happy hormones and gets those negative emotions out of your body.


Third, sleep earlier and get up earlier to allow yourself quiet or extra time to unwind in the evenings, and plot the day out early in the morning. During times of extreme stress, sleep can be hard to come by but sleep is the most healing antidote one can have against stressful periods. Too much sleep is not healthy either because it leaves you sluggish, but seven to eight hours on most nights is most beneficial. I can normally function well on six hours but it’s the seven and occasional eight hours that truly refreshes and recharge me.


For women in the perimenopause years, this can be an extra challenge when waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. suddenly becomes a normal part of life due to hormonal fluctuations in the body. The remedy to this, I have found, is to take natural supplements to alleviate the symptoms, vitamin B at night and 15- to 20-minute power naps during the day.


Prayer works


The fourth practice is to pray it all away. When you’ve plotted all your plans, you must learn to offer and release them to the One who has full control of everything and allow His will to take place. In the middle of a frazzled week, I read this quote and immediately was awash with peace—“God knows what you will need a week from now, a month from now, even 10 years from now. And the good news is that He’s already taking care of you.” After I read that, whatever was troubling me was blown away. Stress? Transition? Choose your battles wisely, and when stress comes knocking on the door, welcome it then let it go, God’s got your back, there is nothing to fear.


Follow the author on Twitter @cathybabao or subscribe to her Facebook updates on https://www.




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