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Self-Care During a Pandemic

During the pandemic, which parts of your self-care remain the same? Which parts have changed? How?

Going through a pandemic can cause stress and anxiety, since it is disrupting normal life for many people all at once.

While it is important to stay informed by watching the news or searching the web for updates, it is also important to examine our own health and well-being. Whether you are a student keeping up with online schooling, a professional working in the front lines, an individual out of work, or perhaps someone working full-time at home and adjusting to a completely different setup – we are all finding ways to adjust and transition accordingly. Take a moment to ponder and reflect on these questions.

What have you noticed in yourself and other people as we navigate through these transitions? Are you finding it challenging or less challenging? Why? Self-care can look very different from person to person. A time like this can be an opportunity to boost your self-care routine or perhaps keep consistent. It is important to be aware that some examples may be more manageable than others. Keeping in mind what works for you vs. another person is crucial.

Developing your Self-Care List

Below are some examples gathered from people for inspiration (no particular order – big or small, easy or hard):

  • Taking a walk outside for 15 minutes
  • Practicing yoga
  • Trying a recipe you have been meaning to try
  • Reading the stack of books that have been on your table for months
  • Taking a break from work to focus on breathing for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Listening to or personally making music for yourself
  • Cleaning and organizing the house
  • Starting a new workout routine
  • Sitting in silence out in the fresh air for at least 30 minutes
  • Creating a purposeful playlist (click here for more insight on how to do this)
  • Talking to a close friend or family
  • Setting boundaries
  • Going out for a walk – perhaps with your dog
  • Colouring or painting something creative and makes you smile (check out Kayla Huszar’s work if you need some support in this area)
  • Staying challenged and productive (i.e. taking on a leadership role at work, starting new projects etc.)
  • Spending more time with loved ones at home
  • Dancing in your room
  • Having quiet time to be with yourself and your thoughts – time to exist
  • Staying seated to watch a full show without thinking about what you still need to do
  • Waking up early to practice meditation
  • Listening to your favourite podcasts
  • Riding your bike or driving without a plan
  • Practicing discipline to keep your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self strong

Developing your Personal Self-Care Model of Balance

What are 4 or 5 key elements that are vital to maintaining balance and well-being in your life?  Model of Balance – Designed by Stephen Williams, Capilano University professor

i.e. Note: Once you have made your own self-care list, focus on the 4 or 5 key elements most vital to your health.

Notice what happens without 1 of these.

Notice what happens without 2.

See if you can become aware of when you feel “deprived.”

Are you feeling quite functional without a few, or is it important for you to have all 4 or 5?

When we are finding that our stress levels start to increase and choose to ignore it, this might be why it becomes less manageable.

Perhaps 3 simple steps might help in making it better.

  1. Notice – when stress, anxiety, frustration, fear, anger etc. (any type of unwanted emotion) start to heighten,acknowledge it. Notice where it comes from.
  2. Choose and Apply – decide at least 1 self-care out of your own personal Model of Balance that will contribute to helping the unwanted emotion(s). It might be best to set aside time that you know you’ll be able to do. If you’ve chosen self-care that requires minimal time, it might be best to take a break and do it right away. Perhaps simply taking a 10 minute break is one!
  3. Check – did it work?

Example of 3 steps:

  1. I am starting to feel physically exhausted and stressed from sitting at my desk working for 6 straight hours.
  2. A nice walk and stretch in the sun would be good – At least for 15 minutes.
  3. I am feeling a bit more energized and less sore. I feel ready to go back to my desk. Yes it worked for me.

Again, these 3 steps may not work as well for you or maybe at all. Soon you’ll develop your own way of making your self-care more concrete/accessible.

Why is self-care important to our team?

Like other professionals, we are constantly giving our time and energy to our clients. Remember when you’re on a plane ready for take off and the flight attendants remind you of making sure to put your own mask on before helping someone else?

It is important to remind ourselves that if we want to give our best to our clients, we need to take the extra steps to ensure a healthy mind for ourselves first. Of course no one is perfect. Some days will be harder than others, and that is perfectly normal.

Keeping up with our own self-care can be a task on its own. Let’s remind ourselves of the simplicity in just being – existing.

We will be alright.

by Leah Callao, BMT, MTA