Where is the JoY?

You live a great life. You did everything right. You were an exemplary student, you landed a good job, you kept your head down and you worked hard. You still do today and you have the house, the car and 2.5 kids to show for it.

#blessed is tacked onto every Instagram post.

But is your envious existence solely a result of divine intervention?What about those late nights you stayed up finishing that speech or, like me this week, finishing my daughter's science project? What about the creative side of yourself that lies dormant all week and can only come out to play on the weekends?

What are the sacrifices you've made for this life and why can't you feel the joy that you think you should feel when you survey what you've built for yourself and your family?

When the pressures of life stack up and you feel like you're the one holding it all together, you wind up in the back seat. It's hard to appreciate the view from back there.

You're out of touch with who you are and what you need to feel full--your need to be in the front seat, taking it all in with a complete view of what lies ahead.

It's time to get back in touch with you. To exhaust the metaphor, now is when you unbuckle and climb through the little space in between the front seats and shimmy into shotgun.

If you find shotgun has already been claimed, ask yourself whose car is this?

This is where self-care comes in. You can call it stress management but the idea is mostly the same - take care of yourself to combat the negative effects of stress on our lives. Self care goes a step further, though. It creates an open dialogue within yourself that is positive and encouraging. It fosters a deep love and understanding for yourself so that you walk through the world as your own protector and guide. You learn to trust yourself to know what is right for you.

If you don't think that stress is affecting your life now (millennials, I'm talking to you), think again. The heart-attack-causing plaques that accumulate in your body don't just appear at 45 and take you down! The extra weight that you carry around doesn't come from one crazy night followed by an all-you-can eat buffet. It comes from years of sleep deprivation and many, many dizzying trips filling up your plate.

Where to start:

This is the time to start opening up to yourself and those around you about what you want and need. Start asking yourself important questions on a daily basis like How am I feeling today? Who is driving today? Write them down and put them where you can see them. Speak the answers out loud, write them down or just take a minute to think about them. There's no need to go further than this in the beginning. Just the act of taking a few minutes to think about yourself will give you insight on what to do next. Take it slowly.

Self-care does not indicate that you're not a hard-worker or that you've given up on what you've built for yourself. It also does not mean that you care less about your family. It's a signal to you and to them that you love yourself and that you are taking care of yourself so that you can better care for them. Set the example for your children that you matter to yourself and that they matter to themselves.

It's such a great feeling to know that you love you and that you're looking out for the you of today and the you of tomorrow.

Helping you help yourself

~Leslie