Our lives have all changed rather drastically as a result of COVID-19. While we are all experiencing the same crisis, we are each experiencing it in unique and individual ways.
As many have reflected, we might be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.
No matter how your life has been effected, self-care is of utmost importance during this time. And not the frilly, commercialized self-care of expensive products and bubble baths and spa days, but sometimes the nitty gritty self-care of self-work.
The practice of mindfulness affords us a wealth of self-support. Engaging in the art of being present in the moment can help slow things down, calm the mind, and also be more aware of what our body, mind, and soul need.
When we are functioning from a state of survival (as many of us are right now), we are more likely to have knee-jerk reactions to the world and its challenges, versus making intentional decisions to respond in a healthy, compassionate, and sustainable way.
Practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer, and other practices that encourage our mind and body to slow down and breathe deeply can help teach us in the moment how to be mindful. With practice, we then learn how to take mindfulness into our everyday lives and in everyday moments.
We’ve teamed up with The Wellness Council and National Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse to offer a FREE live yoga practice on Thursday, April 30th at 6pm, led by our very own DonnaRae Jones to support the important work of slowing down, taking deep breaths, and using healthy coping skills. Pop over to our Online Yoga page to watch live, or on our Facebook page.
Healthy Coping Skills
When we are in a state of overwhelm, we naturally use coping skills to stay regulated. This is something we have to learn – think of a baby learning how to self-soothe in order to put themselves down to bed at night.
As we get older, we learn what we can rely on to help us cope with challenging times. That might be eating a favorite meal, calling a certain friend, making a cup of soothing tea, going for a walk… These sorts of coping skills are often referred to as “healthy,” meaning we adapt to positively respond to challenges.
But sometimes our coping skills become “maladaptive,” meaning they are well-intended ways to deal with stress, trauma, and overwhelm, but end up having long-term negative impacts on our health. Extreme examples might be alcohol or drug abuse, self-harm, disordered eating, social withdrawal, avoidance.
Stay present in what decisions you are making for self-soothing – perhaps even make a list of the activities, people, and practices that make you feel good, calm, and happy. Can you do more of those things?
And if in reflecting on your approach to self-soothing and coping mechanisms you find you are struggling to make the decisions that are healthy and positive for you, it may be time to reach out for help.
Reaching Out for Help
Make no mistake – what we are experiencing is unprecedented. If you are finding it hard to cope, it’s no wonder! There is a constant undercurrent of fear for the health and safety of ourselves and those we love, a sense of isolation as we stay at home, and a feeling of scarcity as we see empty shelves at the grocery store.
Reaching out for help is incredibly brave, even while it may feel very vulnerable to ask. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed – it means you want to thrive.
Here are some ideas of where to reach out:
A friend or family member. Sometimes it can be helpful to have the reminder that there is someone who loves and cares about our well-being. Maybe ask a friend to check in with you periodically, especially if you are feeling isolated.
Ask A Counselor: NCADA. If you are struggling with substance abuse and dependence, NCADA has a way to connect directly with one of their counselors. This resource is available at no cost. Visit their website here.
Behavioral Health Response Hotline: In St. Louis, call 314-469-6644 to talk to a mental health professional 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is a free resource available to anyone. Learn more here.