As a mother, full-time employee, and small business owner, self-care is a vital part of my life. Self-care is what keeps me sane on most days, and while practicing self-care is a great start to reducing stress and anxiety, it’s simply not enough. I say this because even after a hot bath, sitting on the couch with a good book, going to get pampered, or having a lady’s night out – I turn around and there is still housework to be done, a little person needing my attention, and a to-do list a mile long. The cycle starts all over again and the very self-care break I just experienced is merely a distant memory. I often ask my mom, “how did you make it all happen while being a single parent to four children?” Normally she replies, “times are different now.” At times I feel guilty for complaining because I know there are mothers out there who for varying reasons never get to think of self, let alone practice self-care. This is where having a solid support system in place could be life changing, however, I think support is still the missing link.
A support system is a network of family, friends and peers who you can turn to for emotional and practical support. There are many benefits of having a strong support system; individuals with good support systems enjoy better health, live longer, have better coping skills, and report a better overall well-being. Support systems provide outlets to vent, voice concerns and feel validated. Support systems are in place so when you are about to lose it, you have someone to come to the rescue. But how many of us can be honest with ourselves and admit we need support and we can’t do it alone? I was not able to fully admit this until I became a parent and had to adapt to a new way of doing things.
At first, I thought asking for help was a weakness and showed defeat, but with each passing day, I kept putting more and more unrealistic expectations on myself and began falling into depression. It was at that point I had to put my pride aside and vocalize I was falling apart and needed help. A lot of times we look at individuals and think “I wish I had their strength and resilience,” but, honey, let me tell you that very person could be just barely holding it together! Yes, I was once this person. Once I started opening up about my needs and feelings, I then realized I was not alone. I learned that by not asking for help, I was doing myself and my daughter a disservice. I had to come to grips with the fact I needed to hang up my cape and give myself some grace.
We put a lot of pressure and unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I wanted to be a great mom, the kind that makes cute outfits for the school play, bakes cookies for fundraising, attends every PTO meeting while also working a full-time job, and staying in shape and holding down a household as a single parent. Society will have you thinking you need to do all of this with a smile. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do all these things, I was kidding myself thinking I could do this without an enviable support system. This type of self-inflicted pressure we put on ourselves can lead to a path of self-destruction and feeling like you’ll never measure up. There is light at the end of the tunnel, all you have to do is let it in.
This light is called support. I want to make it clear that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength. It takes a strong person to admit, “I do not have it all together and I need help.” Saying everything is okay when it’s not, or “playing the part,” is taking the easy way out so you do not have to deal with the problems at-hand, and this never solves anything. It’s like hiding dirty clothes, but you know eventually they will start to smell. However, calling for backup (your mighty support system) and admitting you need help, now that takes courage. In closing, my hope is you choose to be brave, be your authentic self, and be unapologetic about asking for help. After all, asking for help is a sign of strength and a source of survival. Now, take off the cape and free yourself!
Corey Roman is a Registered Nurse, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, published author (Born to S.L.A.Y), motivational speaker and business owner (Special Touch Holistic Care & Educational Services). Her passion is to help others be the best version of themselves. She has one daughter and enjoys traveling and spending time with loved ones.