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Helps Others When You Help Yourself

Helps Others When You Help Yourself

Licensed therapist explores benefits of self-care, self-compassion

Fall is here and the holiday season is not far behind. And for many, along with the family visits, holiday parties, shopping and preparations, comes stress. Stress and strain can be managed during the holidays and throughout the year, according to Wajeeha Khan, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Washington Township Medical Foundation.

Khan will discuss how to manage stress and improve overall well-being at an online Washington Hospital Health & Wellness seminar at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. This event can be watched live on Facebook and YouTube. To view on Facebook, sign in to your account and then go to facebook.com/WashingtonHosp. Watching on YouTube does not require an account. Simply go to YouTube.com/whhsInHealth.

During the seminar, “Self-care and Self-compassion: Keys to Well-being,” Khan will outline steps individuals can take to become aware of the various issues that create pressure and stress in their lives and discuss tools they can use to begin to relieve those pressures.

“Self-care is looking after your own health by paying attention to how you really are feeling,” Khan says. “It’s important to acknowledge what is missing and what is needed, to be in tune with yourself, to recognize when you are tired, hungry, drained or stressed, or that you need a break or a change in the situation you are in.”

Self-compassion is avoiding self-criticism, avoiding inflicting excess pressure on yourself, and instead, being mindful of your own needs. She adds, “Active use of self-care and self-compassion will improve your mental and physical health, lower the risk of illness and increase your energy to engage with the world around you.”

Neglecting self-care can result in feeling depleted, lack of focus and the inability to care for others — and for yourself. “Although challenging, it’s very important to prioritize time for yourself.” Tools include meditation — as little as five minutes at a time can be very helpful, she says. Stay hydrated, as dehydration can cause anxiety.

“Create boundaries; learn to say no when you can’t do something. We aren’t trained to be in tune with ourselves, to know our limits,” Khan explains. “In our society, the definition of productivity is to keep going. Often that’s counterproductive.”

Khan will discuss resources that are available to help when stress becomes overwhelming, beginning with a frank discussion with one’s own physician, if appropriate. It is important to seek guidance from professionals who can help, including, among others, physicians, behavioral and family therapists, and nutritionists.

Start caring for yourself. She adds, “When you fly, flight attendants say that in case of emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. That’s true of self-care and self-compassion. It’s preventive maintenance.”

For those who are unable to tune into the Nov. 18 Health & Wellness seminar, Khan’s presentation will continue to be available on the Washington Hospital Facebook and YouTube pages. On www.YouTube.com/whhs/InHealth, find a library of health-related videos presented by experts in their fields.