Our mantra in all of the trauma trainings we conduct is: “Good self-care is not selfish - it’s our professional and ethical responsibility.” Yet, we know that amid the stresses of everyday work, family, and other responsibilities, it can be hard to remember, let alone carve out time, to practice good self-care.
The current troubling times and the global coronavirus pandemic have added exponentially to our collective anxiety, with uncertainties, pressures, and worries, including the health and safety of our families; cutbacks in our work, income and related financial stresses; shortages of food, medicine, cleaning supplies and other goods; the relentlessness of the 24-hour news cycle with its sometimes confusing, conflicting, and ever-changing content; and the newly forming social divides, not only due to the practical recommendation of “social distancing”, but other on-going and now magnified divisiveness in our public discourse over what is being said or not said, reported or not reported, advised or not advised, about the pandemic, its origins, its seriousness, and what can, should, is and is not being done about it.
All of this makes it even more essential that we make self-care a priority right now. So here are five ideas for your consideration about self-care in these troubling times:
- Breathe. We teach the simple “box breathing” method in all of our trauma trainings. It’s a breathing technique that’s widely taught to first responders, Navy SEALS, and law enforcement. Best of all, it’s easy to learn and it takes less than a minute to give yourself the gift of some real, tangible benefits with a cycle of box breathing. Here’s a short article that explains the technique and the benefits: https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing
- Laugh. You may have heard the saying, “Laughter is good medicine.” Turns out, it’s actually true. Laughter and a sense of humor (yes, even dark humor) have been proven to have a ton of benefits for our physical and mental health, as well as our relationships. Check out this great summary, then, go ahead, laugh a little (or a lot!): https://www.helpguide.org/arti...he-best-medicine.htm
- Reach out. One of my long-time mentors always says: Be good to yourself by doing good for others. Helping others as a form of self-care? YES! There's research showing that doing good for others has healing benefits for US! (https://www.mayoclinichealthsy...fits-of-volunteering) The social distancing recommendations related to COVID-19 only apply to distancing ourselves physically from others. The great thing about technology is that we have so many other ways to connect with people. So take extra time to connect with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers via phone, email and text. Let them know you’re thinking of them, share stories, share a laugh, and offer whatever form of care, compassion and kindness you can.
- Get outside. Nature provides an abundance of healing properties, good for our bodies, minds and spirits. https://time.com/4405827/the-healing-power-of-nature/
- Practice gratitude. It may feel overwhelming to try to find something to be grateful for when we’re deeply worried about the health and safety of our children, parents, spouses, and, yes, ourselves, and when financial worries and daily uncertainties and changes are piling up. But maybe we can all make something good of being forced to slow down the pace of daily life. And maybe, just maybe, by recognizing and acknowledging our shared vulnerability in this extraordinary collective moment, we can ultimately find our way into a kinder, more compassionate future with one another. That would be something to truly be grateful for.
Be careful out there, friends, and remember to take good care of yourselves.