Maximize these protective factors to optimize your ability to care for yourself during these uncertain times!
No matter your role, you can help yourself by maximizing your resiliency protective factors.
Despite your best efforts, you can’t do everything for everybody. Setting realistic expectations for yourself and those around you helps you to create and stick to appropriate boundaries.
Viewing challenges as temporary and maintaining a good perpective on the future is an important part of self-care. After watching the news, it’s easy to feel that COVID-19 and the economic downturn are a one-two punch that means life will never be the same. Exercising Active Optimism is about deliberately telling yourself that no matter how bad things are right now, they will eventually get better. Our current challenges are temporary, not permanent.
A person’s belief in his/her own ability to create change in his/her life or in the lives of others. In other words, a feeling that your decisions and actions matter in the overall scheme of things.
With all the COVID-19 news around, it’s important to make a concerted effort to love yourself! Accept that you are an important part of the world and the people in it. Accept that you can’t win ’em all. Accept that sometimes you’re weak (and other times you’re strong). Here are some specifics:
- Be kind to yourself and recognize yourself for all the things you DO
- Be proud of what you do and respectful of your limitations
- Acknowledge and accept your experiences, feelings, and reactions
- Be aware of, and accept, your own stressors and trigger points.
Spiritual involvement isn’t just about church! Having a feeling of connection to something bigger than one’s self is a key to being resilient. Many Virginians feel connected to a religious concept or a faith-based group. Many others feel connected to nature and exercise that connection by walking or hiking outside. Still others connect with the universe through meditation or with their inner self through meditation.
Identifying and relying on those around you is an important part of being resilient. Many healthcare workers can start to feel that they must do everything for everyone. Not only is this impossible, it leads to stress, fatigue, and burnout! Reach out to co-workers for help. Rely on the family of an individual you provide care for to assist. Too often we pride ourselves in independence when in reality, interdependence is a better bet!
Many of the easiest self-care techniques you can employ align with keeping your physical health in check. Like it or not, your ability to deal with stress is related to your body’s fitness for life in general. Here are some specific things you can try:
- Take a break from the news – the world won’t stop spinning of you don’t see the next CNN News Alert
- Square Breathing (inhale for four counts, hold four, exhale four, hold four)
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet
- Get outside for some exercise
- Embrace laughter – it really might be the best medicine!
- Adhere to routines and schedules as best you can
- Perform deliberate self-check-ins to evaluate how you’re feeling
Similar to Physical Wellbeing, proper rest and good sleep habits are a key component of your ability to manage stress. Shoot for 8 hours of sleep each night. If that’s impossible, at least try to get as much as you can! You can also try to go to bed and wake at the same time each day.
They say: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
During the COVID-19 response, we all have a lot of time to think about the things we tell ourselves. It becomes easy to believe that the end is nigh or that the world will never be the same.
One of the most powerful ways you can help yourself is to be deliberate about identifying these thoughts and eliminating them. Instead, use positive statements such as “I’m going to do my best and that’s going to be enough” – even if you don’t believe them!
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, all the self-care techniques in our toolbox aren’t enough. If you find yourself experiencing prolonged depression or anxiety, or if you are having thoughts about harming yourself or others, seek help right away.