Lionhearted – Self-Care for the Long Run
Volume 5 • Issue 5 • May 2020
Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.
Self-Care for the Long Run
Danger comes with its own timeline. Tornadoes are brief, public assaults with clear beginnings and endings, followed by long recoveries. The consequences of child abuse can last a lifetime and beyond. Institutional racism and climate change spread insidiously, with far-reaching and devastating results across generations.
The COVID-19 crisis had a definitive onset (the first human infection) but has taken months to develop into a global scourge. And still the situation evolves: the threat to health, the secondary social and economic effects, and our efforts to fight back. Whatever the new normal turns out to be, we are on our way. But we are in it for the long run.
This crisis serves up one blow after another: potential infection, actual infection, empty store shelves, lost savings, childcare needs, delayed healthcare services, etc. And the stress is amplified by the loss of so many reliable coping options: lunches with friends, workouts at the gym, attending places of worship, and more. Depending on your circumstances, you may not even have a shoulder to cry on, since that shoulder may belong to someone more stressed out than you!
Anxiety, fear, and helplessness under these circumstances do not constitute mental illness, but they can lead to insomnia, irritability, depression, and emotional and physiological dysregulation. Substance use and interpersonal conflict are on the rise. Stress weakens motivation, focus, nuanced thinking, planning and decision-making. Routines that help ground and organize us fall by the wayside. A simple, everyday challenge – a technology glitch or bawling child – can feel earth-shattering.
OK, this is getting depressing. Enough! It’s time to get positive! Time to take care of the people around you! And time to remind you that self-care is what makes taking care of others possible.
We have written here in the past about self-care. Many sites offer self-care tips, (see Mayo Clinic, State of California and CDC), so we will not bombard you with a hundred ideas. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Be Kind to Your Body
Your body takes care of you. Show your gratitude by being kind to it. Sleep, eat, exercise and hydrate, and go easy on the self-medicating.
What have you and your loved ones found to laugh at today? Have you been diligent about being silly?
Manage Your Exposure
Keep up with the latest news, but notice the positive and limit your exposure to the negative. Leverage social media for support instead of allowing negative posts on your feed and getting wrapped up in upsetting conversations.
Too busy to reach out? Research says the benefits to your brain are worth the effort! Family, friends and pets are vital to our well-being. Just waving to the grocery clerk or smiling at your neighbor across the street may be just the ticket for getting you through the day.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson