Self-Care: Improving Your Overall Happiness, Starting with You
During times of stress and uncertainty, it is increasingly important to take care of yourself. So often in the workplace and at home we are focused on the well-being of others and their needs, and we forget about number one, ourselves. Let’s face it, if you are not in a good mental and physical space, you may not have the stamina or resilience to keep taking care of those people you care so much about. You are important too and just as the ones you care about deserve your attention, you also need that same level of care.
What is self-care?
Self-care is about identifying pain points, personal struggles and challenges, and finding a productive, healing way to move forward past them to a healthier regimen. It is about changing your daily habits to maintain better physical and mental health. According it the International Self-Care Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as follows, “Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.
It has become increasingly difficult to see how our friends, family members and coworkers are doing and interpret their body language and cues due to social distancing and quarantines; no hugs, no handshakes and no consoling. You can’t tell if they have been crying all day or if they look like they haven’t been sleeping. Times are tough and we are all carrying a load heavier than we have in the past without the support of others. Making time to reach out is the best support you can offer. A quick call to check-in, maybe a Zoom call or Facetime so you can see each other face to face; you just have to make the time. It is also important that you reach out when you need to, keep in touch with your tribe and lean on them for the support you need.
Where should you start with self-care?
Before you start formulating your plan, there are three key activities you should engage in; reflect, examine and replace. Look at your current strategies for coping and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Consider your main road blocks to self-care and decide how you will overcome them. Replace any negative strategies and behaviors with something more positive. Some examples of red flags could be; you aren’t sleeping well, you are agitated, your diet is poor or you just cannot seem to think straight.
Once you have identified these areas of concern, evaluate your emergency self-care strategies; relaxation and staying calm, self-talk, social support and mood. What are you doing in these categories that is helpful or unhelpful? Are you doing deep breathing? If you are, is it helpful or does it make you frustrated? Is your self-talk harmful, like, “I can’t handle this” or is it helpful, “I can do this”? Who are you relying on for social support; who helps you and who drains your energy? And lastly, what activities put you in a good mood and what should you avoid? Do you enjoy taking long walks or have you just been laying in your bed all day? Really evaluating what is beneficial to your self-care plan and what will hinder your progress is important.
Now it’s time to put your plan in place! There are many templates you can find on the internet such as Black Dog Institutes Self-Care Template and HRM’s Personal Situation Plan. Figure out what works for you and what your best strategies are for the following categories; body, mind, spirit, emotions, relationships and work – and write them down. Then hone in in your top three positive coping strategies that you want to get in the habit of using. Save them to your phone, write them in a journal, but refer to them often.
Keep in mind it is okay to not be okay. It is good to acknowledge that it has been a challenging year for you and that you are not coping with it well. How you deal with these struggles makes all the difference. After all life really is 1% of what happens to you and 99% how you deal with it. Finding your tribe, checking in, using tools and being okay with reaching out for support from family, friends and employers can enable you to find success in navigating the new normal. You don’t have to do it alone and as long as we have each other, we will get through it together. The Worcester Chamber of Commerce compiled a great compilation of mental health resources that both you and your family can use.
We’re here for you.
At North Brookfield Savings Bank, we care about your financial success, but we also care about your overall well-being. We know that when you practice self-care, you are more likely to be happy and have success throughout your entire life. Taking care of yourself can come in many forms, and while one of those forms is taking care of yourself financially, it is also important to care for yourself mentally.