Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Others

Many women can often feel like we have the world on our shoulders. We often carry not only our stress but the stress of our loved ones and those closest to us. Often, women can feel isolated, unsupported, and even depressed because of various challenges. Over time, women often become desensitized to these feelings as we accept this as the norm as opposed to true clinical depression or anxiety. Below are some common symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, sadness, or suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Irritability, anxiousness, tension and guilt
  • Feelings of exhaustion, severe tiredness and inability to concentrate or remember details
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities and relationships
  • Sleep disturbances; sleeping too much or too little, insomnia and changes in appetite
  • Physical symptoms – aches and pains, cramps, headaches, digestive issues, breast tenderness,          bloating
  • Feeling out of control and panic attacks
  • Mood swings and feelings of tearfulness


Statistics show it takes more energy to be angry and frustrated than to just sit and talk for a short period of time. Have you ever been on an airplane and the flight attendant announces, “In case of an emergency, put your mask on first and then help the person next to you?”  That’s what I’m asking you to do now. Breathe and put your mask on first.

Below are some self-reflective questions that can help us on our journey to being better versions of ourselves. While mental health treatment is sometimes required to overcome certain life challenges, the work starts with us. Finding time to reflect on how we’re feeling, what we want out of life, and where we may need help is a small step toward achieving a healthier balance.

  1. Responsibility – Did I take responsibility for how I feel? Did I eat this morning, or did I wake up late? Was I present focused or was I already worrying about something else?
  2. Gratitude – Did I find time to recognize the things in life that I am grateful for each day?
  3. Supportive Communication – Did I offer positive encouragement? (e.g., Did I call my child lazy for not cleaning his room or did I ask him to please take care of his responsibilities?)
  4. Health – Did I exercise today? Did I go to bed at a decent hour? Walking outside is free!
  5. Nourishment – What did I put in my body today? Will it nourish my body and mind?
  6. Recognition – Did I recognize the four things my partner/child helped me with today or did I only focus on the one thing they did not do?
  7. Structure – Boundaries, rules, schedule and routine – how am I doing in this arena?
  8. Personal Growth – Am I finding time to connect with myself? Evaluate my spirituality, personal goals and needs?
  9. Pride – If I am lacking something, am I too proud to ask for help?


Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” This quote reminds me that each moment is a new moment of opportunity. Life can be challenging and chaotic but every day, every breath, is a gift.

Monica, MS, MFT, is a School-Based Therapist at Lake Forest Elementary, Haynes Bridge Middle School & CHRIS Counseling Center – DeKalb. To schedule an appointment please email us at Counseling.Center@chris180.org.

Monica Cota-Bilbrey, MS, MFT
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