Three Ways to Care for Yourself

Pretty young woman looks toward the shining sun with her hair blowing. - 6/30/2020

Most everyone has the capacity for resilience in the wake of trauma and adversity. However, that doesn’t mean we have an “auto pilot” button that takes over to ensure our well-being. Sometimes we’re so focused on the welfare of others that we forget about our own health. We must take deliberate steps to ensure self-care, because it is the foundation for helping others. 

Self-care practices can be very simple. Here are three ways to get you started:

  1. Meditation 

If you are a first responder, parent, loved one of an ill family member or in any role that requires helping someone, your doing something very personal. You use a lot of energy when compassionately listening to the challenges of others. You apply skill and precision. You search for solutions and resources. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear, calm mind. Meditation is a great way to help center oneself. We included The Five-Minute Meditation Practice by Sharon Liao below. Try it and experience the benefits of reduced anxiety and enhanced gratitude for all the opportunities in your life.

  1. Prayer 

People often rely on prayer during unsettling times or times of deep gratitude. It’s a global reference for people from all walks of life and religious denominations serving as a lifeline to hope and encouragement. Prayer can keep us grounded. You can pray at any time, out loud or silently, and experience a shift in your attention. You can express thanks or ask for guidance. You can pray from the heart, or you can pray popular prayers such as the Serenity Prayer or the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis. Reading them just might be what you need to improve your mood and help you refocus.  

  1. Unplug

A high volume of traumatic news can take a toll on our cognitive function and general mental well-being. We can take one simple step to refresh: unplug. Avoid all news outlets for a few days or as long as needed. That means avoiding social media and television news segments. Instead of listening to news in your car listen to music, a podcast or an audio book. Don’t even scan the local paper. Simply step aside and let all the news pass you by. Replace that time with a walk outside, sitting quietly in the sun or a jog on the treadmill. You will probably feel lighter in a few days, and once you do plug in again, you will likely notice you haven’t missed much at all.

All the time, but especially during times of crisis, we must pay attention to our physical, mental and emotional health. Learn to surrender the things you can’t control. Trust those things to a higher power so that you can be hopeful about the future. Learn healthful practices to open a pathway to growth through adversity. Meditation, prayer and unplugging are three ways you can start today, and they require no money and very little time, but the rewards can be tremendous.

If you do need to speak with someone, call 850.469.3500.

Five-Minute Meditation Practice

Minute 1: Breathe Deeply

Rest your hands on the tops of your thighs with legs hip-distance apart and feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Deepen your breathing (through the nose, the mouth, or both), inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of six.

Minute 2: Find Your Natural Pace

Stop counting and allow your breathing to fall into an easy rhythm. Pay attention to your breathing. Tune in to the rising and falling sensation in your body. Experience breathing from your belly to your shoulders.

Minute 3: Stay Focused

Continue to be aware of your breathing. If random thoughts come to mind imagine them as clouds floating by. This visualization technique helps you to acknowledge your worries without responding to them emotionally. 

Minute 4: Relax

Release your focus on your breathing and simply sit. Remind yourself that there’s nothing to do, fix, or change.

Minute 5: Give Thanks

Think about something for which you are grateful. Wiggle your toes and fingers and think about how relaxed you feel. Open your eyes, stand up, and tackle the rest of your day—calm, cool, and collected.