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Self-Care in Challenging Times

Posted on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 By:
Posted in: blogMental Health & Mindfulness

Bright Shiny Greetings to everyone!

I hope you have been enjoying some sunny warm weather, getting a little more vitamin D, planting a few seeds, taking a nap under a tree, or whatever is your summertime fancy!

Thought we could settle in for just a moment and talk about self-care today. What does self-care mean to you? It can be as simple as a cup of hot Tulsi tea before bedtime, or as elaborate as a weekend-long mountain expedition, navigating the dense brush with a GPS in hand. Self-care is about nourishing your body, mind, and soul with an activity that is pleasurable, restorative, and rejuvenating.

Self-care is also a balance. It’s a balance between the needs and desires of all of our selves – our physical self, our emotional self, our spiritual self, our social self, and our professional self. COVID-19 and the worldwide shut down has definitely had an impact on our ability to self-care in crucial areas, maybe even ALL areas. No wonder many of us are struggling with coping!

Just like the wheel of a car or a bike, the self-care wheel must be balanced.  If there is a part of the wheel that is out of alignment, either overinflated or deflated, then the ride will be bumpy. We want a smooth ride whenever possible.  Or, at the very least, it can be helpful to acknowledge when our wheel is off-balance and work to either create a plan for balancing out, or compensate in other ways for the wobbliness.

So it’s important to every once in a while, take a look at your self-care care wheel and assess how balanced your life choices are at the moment.

Therapist Aid has a self-care assessment tool that I really like because rather than asking you to respond “yes” or “no”, it goes deeper in asking you to scale, from 1-3, how well or how often you are engaging in various self-care activities. It also gets you to think about your priorities and *star* the areas in which you’d like to work on improving self-care. You can find it at https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/self-care-assessment.pdf

When you have a moment, take a look at the self-care assessment tool. Be gentle with yourself and know that you are always doing your very best with what you have and what you know at the time.

As mentioned above, you will most certainly notice that there are many areas of self-care affected by the current coronavirus pandemic. Especially the section on social well-being, and perhaps the section on professional well-being. In these cases, think about ways in which you can compensate (for e.g., change the ways/frequency in which you connect with others), or plan to make up for this imbalance during later stages of the economic re-opening. Know that this imbalance is temporary and will have an effect on how you feel and cope generally with life. Approach this awareness with self-compassion. Know that we are all experiencing an imbalance in our self-care because resources are restricted. It won’t last forever and it’ll be ok.

stay well,

Melanie

Resources

1. I came across a magnificent Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook written by the Wellness Society. It’s like a mental health toolbox specific to the pandemic. It has something about EVERYTHING mental health! Check it out!
https://thewellnesssociety.org/free-coronavirus-anxiety-workbook/

2. Take a look at the entire https://thewellnesssociety.org/ website, as it has a bunch of free, downloadable resources like affirmation cards, social connection planner, and mindful coloring sheets.

3. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for Newfoundland and Labrador website also has a load of great resources, including a self-care wheel, feelings wheel, and a self-esteem journal template.  Find these here: https://cmhanl.ca/resources/

4. Psychology Tools has also developed a workbook for “Living with worry and anxiety admist global uncertainty” which is packed with a bunch of CBT tools they have on their website for anxiety in general, but adapted specifically for the coronavirus pandemic.  It’s also available in for free download in 45 different languages. Wow!! https://www.psychologytools.com/assets/covid-19/guide_to_living_with_worry_and_anxiety_amidst_global_uncertainty_en-us.pdf

Especially for People we work with

1. Ask people to work through the self-care assessment with you. Ask them to identify areas of self-care that they would like to work on, to improve their feelings of safety, peace, and happiness. Help them to plan ways to follow through with these self-nourishing activities.

2. There are a ton of links to online activities in the Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook, including links to free online art classes, mindfulness websites, virtual social connection ideas, online exercise videos, and self-care tips. Try some out with the folks you work with!

3. Download a copy of the self-care wheel from CMHA Newfoundland as an activity for you and the folks you work with. You can shade in each area of the wheel to show how well/how often you are enjoying self-care in that area.  For e.g., I might color in just 1/4 of my “social” self-care section at this moment, when I don’t have as much access to my social support network, whereas in my “personal” self-care section, I might color in 2/3 of the triangle since I’ve had more time to spend in that area of self-care since COVID-19. Identify creative ways people can fulfill areas of the wheel to create greater balance.

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