I think it’s very hard to work on self improvement, when you don’t feel rewarded with the reinforcement of seeing concrete progress. There are so many ways to get discouraged. Sometimes you might feel like life is conspiring against you in the realm of self-care. For instance, you find an exercise class you can fit into your busy schedule only to discover that you dislike the teacher. Or you try to buy more organic vegetables, then notice that you put them in a drawer in your refrigerator and forgot they were there. Maybe your partner or spouse isn’t that supportive of your desire to live a healthier life style or is unable/unwilling to work with his/her own negative habits. How do you keep on trying without giving in or giving up?
Persistence is an interesting quality. Sometimes it’s better to let go and move on, sometimes it’s more important to hang in there despite disappointments and discouragement. What is your persistence factor? Do you find that you are someone who keeps trying no matter what? Can you let go when you need to? Can you stick with a solution-plan when there are ups and downs?
Most people who are successful with stress reduction can attest to the need for persistence, since most healthy stress reduction behavior takes time to show results. For example, breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise, all take practice to have an impact on anxiety.
In AA it’s suggested that newcomers find support from people who have been working the steps over a period of time–people who have found some degree of serenity and sobriety over time–and this seems to me to be very good advice.
What can you do to find role models who can support you on the road to better self-care? How can you cultivate patience for the process, and persistence to reach your goals?
It is hard to practice just about anything all on your own! This is why there are so many groups, classes, and online forums, not to mention text messages and phone calls to friends and relatives.
Groups and classes can help us get new ideas, share our own thoughts and experiences, encourage us, and help us stay on track. On the Mayo Clinic webpage about stress reduction they say that support from family, friends, and coworkers can have a strong healing impact when you are under stress. Support gives you a way to belong, which reduces loneliness, fosters better self esteem, and enhances feelings of security.
If you do not have a supportive family, you are not alone. That’s a good reason to reach out into the world to find friends and support groups that can accomplish the same things as family support.
When you are depressed or traumatized, it is very easy to isolate yourself. That is why sometimes people decide to pursue individual therapy as a step towards connecting with another person. It is helpful to look at the patterns of your friendships and intimate relationships to see if you are repeating hurtful experiences from earlier times.
You may have had friends and support at an earlier time in your life and been disappointed by people from your past. Sometimes it is possible to reconnect with lost friends and if not, it may be possible to let go and grieve for the disappointments, which could make room for newer healthier relationships.
Together, persistence and support are a great combination for reducing stress and anxiety in your life.