In November, I downloaded Chip Gaines' book Capital Gaines as something of an impulse buy as I boarded for a cross-country flight. It's pretty light reading, and while he seems like someone who you'd want to have a beer with, you wonder if anything ever gets to him. His life advice is a little flowery, but the wisdom of his and Joanna's decision to quit doing their show Fixer Upper is pretty solid. They believe that you only really have bandwidth to do two things really well. They had the show, their business and their family, and something had to give.
I think he's right, but I would extend his philosophy to suggest that you can only effectively deal with two stressful things at a time. I feel like I'm coming up for air. I've had three situations: An impending product launch at work, delays in the closing of my house sale and a kid wearing 25 bandages because he can't stop compulsively picking holes in his skin. The product launch happened, and I'm hopefully closing in a week or so. The hardest of those situations is still with me, but with the others subsiding, I feel like I can cope.
So if you've got more than two big stressful things affecting you, what do you do about it? We can control the things we go full-on into, but the things that cause us stress are often things we can't abandon. You know, like our child. I try to make time to do stuff that is more me-oriented, and get physically away, but this is hard. As fond as I am of saying, "We all make choices," I don't always follow through.
You don't need permission to exercise self-care, but you can tell others that you need it. That's where I often have a hard time. I need "me time" and instead of asking for it, I start to resent everyone around me. That's certainly not healthy. You also need to make it a frequent practice, maybe even schedule it, if it helps. I for one tend to consider vacation time my self-care opportunities, but sometimes I go months in between. Heck, last time I didn't even go anywhere, and I just spent the week at home.
If your stressful thing count is over two, take a break. You won't feel better by wallowing in your stress.