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10 Self-Care Strategies During Trying Times

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir
As a mother, a therapist, a partner, how good am I to any one if I am not taking care of myself? Not so good at all. Those of us in the helping professions (or roles that give out a lot of nurturing energy) especially need to take a pause and focus on replenishment and self-care. When our cup is not topped off, we run on fumes. And that’s not helpful to anyone, least of all our selves.

This fall has been a convergence of stress for so many. I know for myself, as a therapist, so many of my clients are triggered by events in the news which shake trauma survivors to the core. Even if heated political circumstances were not bubbling up and impacting one’s sense of personal safety, the usual stress of holidays is upon those who celebrate the typical Western holidays running between Halloween on through Valentine’s Day. Time crunches, financial constraints, juggle dance of work and family life. Throw in a loss or trauma, upsetting news of ongoing shooting violence, hate crimes,  and the scales of balance are tipped and lopsided to overwhelm for many.
So what can be done to keep that life raft at the ready?
1. Remember that any stress can be temporary.  This too shall pass. It’s true that our country is going through some massive growing pains, is more politically divided than ever, and that many feel a true sense of despair just scanning their newsfeeds.  Be protective of your personal space and unplug electronically from time to time.

2 Take breaks in nature. Hiking is incredibly restorative. Find a path in the mountains, by the sea, in the desert, by a lake or stream. Wherever nature is for you, find it. Breathe it in. Listen to the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves, the birds singing, a mountain stream babbling, crickets chirping. Studies show that hiking in nature particularly is good for mental health (Netburn, 2015).

3 Take action Vote. Volunteer. Contribute to a cause. Join an organization that supports your passions. Problem solving helps to reduce stress significantly, especially if you break it down into chunks like facing the challenge, clarifying concerns, and then creating and executing a plan of action (Heitler, S., 2017).

4 Find solace in safe community  Any specialist in the trauma community knows it is well documented that safe community and social support is vital to trauma recovery. It goes without saying that if you have blooms in your garden of support, you have solid people who have your back during life’s challenging times. Likewise, don’t be afraid to pull some weeds if you have some toxic growth in that garden of social support.

5 Spiritual connection This may be in a temple, church, mosque, nature, or your own home. Connect with your Spiritual Self to assist in the transcendence of challenging times. Whether solitary or communal, tapping into spirituality is an essential component in the healing journey.

6 Meditate Mindfulness meditation shows benefits for lowering stress in many studies and is highly recommended by most traumatologists as well as helping professionals (van der Kolk, 2015). You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to practice meditation, but implementing even 10 minutes/day to breathe and clear out the mind chatter has benefits. Explore low cost or free apps with meditation chimes and timers.

7 See a strengths-focused and trauma-informed therapist Connect with a licensed helping professional who understands how to treat trauma, loss, depression, anxiety and from a strengths-focused, social-justice informed approach. We are out there. We exist. And we are honored to help you. In fact, we consider it a passion and a calling to bear witness and help other people heal.

8 Rest Fairly self-explanatory but hard to do in a face-paced, pressured world. However, absolutely necessary. Allowing your body to go into a state of deep relaxation with an afternoon nap (or resting with no specific productivity in mind or motion) allows the body and mind t0 synthesize life on all levels and top off energy reserves for the day or week ahead.

9 Create Expressive arts are also proven to release held tension and help practitioners achieve a sense of meditative calm. Check out world renown art therapist Cathy Malchiodi’s helpful trauma-informed work at : https://www.cathymalchiodi.com/books/bibliography/

10 Nourish your body/mind/spirit Select nutritious food, hydrate, exercise moderately, and get good sleep. These three pillars of health are essential for a rested and recharged mind/body/spirit. If you are having difficulty with these basic foundational components of self care, see a holistic health practitioner to advise regarding supplements, diet, sleep hygiene, and gentle exercise (like yoga, hiking, walking, etc.)

You got this! We got this. By taking care of ourselves, we help the world to heal. Let’s do our part.

 

Retrieved from: (Heitler, 2017): https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201706/the-single-best-strategy-reducing-stress

Retrieved from: (Malchiodi, C, 2018): https://www.cathymalchiodi.com/books/bibliography/

Retrieved from: (Netburn, 2015): http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-nature-mental-health-20150629-story.html

van der Kolk, (2015). The body keeps the score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma, Penguin Books.

10 Self-Care Strategies During Trying Times

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Los Angeles, CA. She provides psychotherapy for individuals experiencing trauma and loss (ranging from women's reproductive mental health to recovery from toxic relationships in love/work/family, from special needs parenting to grief work). She is also a writer, educator, and podcaster. Website:

http://www.andreaschneiderlcsw.com/


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APA Reference
Schneider, A. (2018). 10 Self-Care Strategies During Trying Times. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/savvy-shrink/2018/10/10-self-care-strategies-during-trying-times/

 

Last updated: 5 Nov 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Nov 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.