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Life can knock you off your feet! I take care of everything and everyone…this is what I do and a large part of who I am! One day while at work I had this intense squeezing in my chest, everything started to spin, I was nauseous and dizzy. I thought I was having a heart attack. After being checked out in the ER, thankfully my ticker is in fine condition but what I experienced was a panic attack.

Last semester was very difficult: working 50+ hours a week, dealing with the news of my brother being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, caring for him during treatment, all while working towards finishing my degree, and the pressure was taking its toll. This panic attack was an eye opening experience.

I was not taking care of myself at all and it was evident. It was time to make some healthy changes. The hardest one was acknowledging that it wasn’t selfish to take time for self-care. I worked on trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, took some walks (even short 15 minute ones helped) and—this is a big one—turning off all electronics (YES, no Facebook!!!) at least an hour before going to sleep. However, the most important form of self-care for me has been the practice of active listening and affirmation towards myself.

Active listening is when we listen to someone, acknowledge their feelings and restate it so they feel understood and validated. It might sound, and feel, weird doing this, but give it a try. I would say things to myself like, “working so many hours and caring for Anthony (my brother) is really exhausting,” or “it’s ok to be scared and sad to see Anthony so sick.”

So many people suffer with anxiety, many in silence. I was ashamed to admit that at one point, but not anymore. This makes me human. If you find yourself in a similar situation, practice some self-care. Be kind and love yourself. Allow the truth of your emotions to have a safe space with no judgment. Give yourself time to feel, grow, and heal on this journey of life.

Life can knock us off our feet, but it’s okay because sometimes we need to lay down and rest.

Be kind to YOU today!

Dianne Galasso is a Brooklyn native since birth! In 1991, she received her AAS in Journalism from Kingsborough Community College. She studied at St. John’s University from 1993-1999. Dianne has had photographic and written work published, as well as has edited for other published authors. Since 1991, Dianne has worked at a medical center in Brooklyn in various job functions, currently as a Manager in the Nursing Education Department. She has coached girls’ softball, volunteered in the women’s and children’s ministry in her local church and is an active resource in the lives of children. After a 15 year hiatus from school, Dianne is currently a student at CUNY SPS where she is pursuing her BA in Psychology.