If you’ve worked in social services, you’ve likely heard about “self-care” so many times you’ve lost count. If not, you might be encountering this term for the first time as we all [hopefully] spend more time investing in our mental and emotional well-being while we’re distancing.
Whether you’ve heard it once or a hundred times, you might wonder why people place so much emphasis on the idea of “self-care”. One of our Sexual Assault Counselors, Naicia, shares her thoughts:
Why do we encourage self-care?
Trauma compromises our wellbeing. Taking an active role to care for our mental, emotional, and physical health can be a challenging journey. People who have been repeatedly wounded by another person may come to understand that they lack worth or are not deserving of having their needs met. A survivor’s world is distorted by enduring repeated crises. When the brain is trained to be on hyper-alert for safety, the idea of feeling well doesn’t make sense. Avoiding and ignoring emotions may seem safer.
Self-care is giving space to see yourself as deserving of emotional and physical wellbeing. Activities that encourage movement like music, dance, yoga, and exercise allow the body to release intense emotions in a nonverbal way. Creative expressions of art, writing, music, and crafts also release the energy of trauma in healthy ways. Focused breathing releases stress and tension and slows heightened awareness and flashbacks that impede day to day functioning. Positive affirmations empower self-awareness and increase self-esteem.
Consistently practicing things that energize us and center us at the moment slowly rewire the brain to recognize that our present needs are important. Nurturing self-care activities can help us gain control over stressful emotions.
Whether you are the victim of abuse or enduring higher than normal stress due to our unprecedented circumstances, don’t forget that you matter. You are valuable. You deserve to invest in yourself. Take the time to remind your brain, body, and spirit that you matter.
What are your favorite self-care activities? What are the things that ground you or lift your spirits? Share them in the comments! You never know who you might inspire!