Heroes Need Self Care Too (And Little Things Matter)

Decorative fabric heart hanging on the blue wooden background

It’s been a heart-breaking week for This Is Us fans. We knew from the beginning that we would lose Jack Pearson along the way, but what a heartbreaking loss it turned out to be.

I think there are some self-care lessons we can learn from Jack’s tragedy.

First: the little things, the boring things, the inconsequential things – they matter. They may seem trivial but sometimes they are the difference between life and death. These little things are part of selfcare.

  • Since half of home fires happen between 11 pm and 7 am, you should have a smoke detector in every bedroom. Change the batteries regularly – one easy strategy suggested by many fire departments is to change batteries when you change the clocks – twice a year, at spring forward and fall back. Learn more about fire safety and prevention from the US Fire Administration by clicking here. Just a few minutes to change batteries twice a year could literally be the difference between life and death.
  • More than half of the people who die in car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. It takes two seconds to click on your belt before your drive. It’s the same as the smoke detectors: so simple and boring you may think it doesn’t matter. My point is that small things, little things, boring things can matter tremendously when it comes to staying safe and healthy. Click here for more from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on vehicle safety.
  • Each year, 26,000 kids and teens sustain traumatic brain injuries because they are in a bicycle accident without a protective helmet. Most of us didn’t wear helmets growing up, but it’s a simple habit to adopt for ourselves and the children in our lives. Click here for more from the CDC on head injuries and bicycle safety.

Second, and perhaps the deeper message of Jack Pearson’s death, is that putting everyone else first can sometimes end poorly. The fictional Jack Pearson is a good man – hardworking, the kind of man who puts his wife and kids first, who works hard and takes care of his friends, who never lets anyone see the struggle within. He beats alcoholism through his diligence. He gets the car his wife and kids want, which is beyond the family’s budget, and just takes care of it on his own. He saves not only his wife and kids from a fire, but also the family dog and the family photo albums.

But going above and beyond – and going it alone – can backfire, just as Jack’s heart gave out to the smoke he inhaled in his final act of heroism. Consider, for instance, family caregivers – one-third of whom are every-day heroes while silently dealing with their own health issues. Pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion can mean that you are no longer able to take care of those for whom you are responsible. Research shows that family caregivers have higher levels of stress hormones and lower levels of immune antibodies – which means that they are more likely to get sick, because of the constant effort of caring for others. Read more about health challenges for caregivers by clicking here.

Whatever your role – working parent, caregiver for a child or spouse or parent with a health issue, individual juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet – remember that you also have a responsibility to your own health and well-being. Sometimes, the most responsible thing to do is stop. Admit you need help. Acknowledge to others your internal emotional struggle. Take time for the rest and recovery you need, too. You deserve compassion. You deserve understanding. You deserve support. Your work and efforts to care for others is beautiful, loving, and heroic. Just remember that heroes need selfcare, too.

Take care of your hearts, dear ones.

Let me know below – how are you taking care of yourself? And where could you do a better job of acknowledging your limitations, and letting others help you?