The necessity of self-care in a crisis
The current COVID-19 pandemic crisis has seen most people juggling a different mix of responsibilities and pressures than usual and whilst we are all in the same storm we are not in the same boat. If anything the pandemic crisis has highlighted there are individualised needs depending on our experiences, such as those for frontline workers will differ to parents who are homeschooling, family members working from home or being furloughed, caring for elderly parents or relatives, organisations undergoing drastic changes to their businesses and the potential changes in the way we work in the future.
The Know You More Self-Care in a Crisis resource was purposefully designed with this in mind, to create an opportunity to reflect on your own individual self-care needs at a time of crisis or great change, to pause and notice what your needs are and what helps you to keep going, moving forward.
What is self-care?
At its core, self-care is the practice of actively looking after your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Self-care has an important role during periods of stress to aid recovery, maintenance and growth and doing it in the way that best suits your needs at the time. Looking after ourselves reaps the benefits of improving our problem-solving abilities, thinking flexibly, enhanced self-esteem and improved wellbeing overall.
Self-care means anything that helps you to refuel and this will be different things to different people. Self-care means any activity that you enjoy doing and making a conscious effort to include it in your day or even as a weekly activity. Activities can vary depending on what you enjoy and help you feel refreshed, which could be activities which calm your mind (such as going for a walk, meditating, taking a bath, reading) or more physical related activities such as exercise, gardening, looking after your physical wellbeing (diet, hydration, sleep), or even social activities such as catching up with a friend or family. The best self-care regime is the one that you will stick to, knowing who you are, your limitations, what works for you, and finding ways to decompress your day.
What self-care is not?
Our own self-care, particularly during a crisis, often gets neglected, overlooked or deprioritised as we shift our focus to looking after others, coping with changes in the way we work or live, or sometimes just getting through the day, only to find by the evening we feel drained, out of energy and out of time for any self-care.
For some, the thought of having any form of self-care at a time of crisis feels like a selfish act to focus on oneself when so many people are vulnerable and facing illness and hardship.
Self-care is not selfish. It is important to shift our mindset from this. It’s a necessity for our long-term wellbeing. Making time and prioritising self-care doesn’t mean ‘me first’, it means ‘me too’. Adding your own self-care needs as a non-negotiable item on your to-do-list.
Why is it so hard to do?
Most of us know and have heard about self-care and even sense it’s importance, creating our mental list of ‘should-do’s’ for self-care. But many times we find it difficult to include in our day for example:
- How do I fit it into my day which is already jam-packed?
- I’m too tired or I just don’t feel motivated
- There’s the familiar adage “put your own mask on before helping someone else with theirs”, how do I do this when it feels opposite to my natural instinct of putting the needs of others before my own?
With any of these making time for self-care can sometimes feel impossible and at the very time we have no headspace even to consider what might help us to feel better. This is where the KYM self-care resource can help you create that space, taking a pause to mindfully pay attention to you, your own needs and with compassion, adjusting it as and when you need to.
Whilst we are not going to give you a long list of self-care activities you can do (you can google that), we would like to highlight a few suggestions to help you succeed with your self-care plan:
- Pay attention to how you are feeling emotionally and physically. There will be key signs that indicate your self-care needs focus, such as having less patience, low energy, changes in your normal sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating
- Start small – self-care acts don’t have to be the big bang of changes to your routine. Make it something that helps to refuel you and is easy to incorporate in your day
- When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself. When you identify your own self-care needs, make it non-negotiable.
- Know when you need help or need to talk to someone else, a friend, a professional coach or a ‘trusted other’. This can help lift the weight from coping with the pressures of stress particularly if feeling overwhelmed or struggling to make the changes you need.
Looking after our wellbeing in a time of crisis is critical to help us weather the storm and thrive after it has passed. Using this resource will guide the reflective process, helping to reflect on what we noticed in ourselves, how we felt, our actions in a challenging time, what we prioritised and what we stopped doing for ourselves. Identifying our needs at a time like this and what we need to reframe and refuel will help our wellbeing so we can move forward and be functioning at our best.
Download your printable copy of the ‘Know You More ‘Self Care in a Crisis’ resource here.