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Practicing Self-Care During Times of Crisis

When faced with a crisis, it can consume our thoughts and emotions, and leave us feeling drained with no energy. Practicing self-care is extremely important during increase times of stress. Many times, when we mention self-care, most people imagine an extended day at the spa filled with a pedicure, manicure, massage, facial, or other aesthetic procedures.  Certainly, this can be included; however, self-care does not begin or end at the spa. In fact, it requires a deeper understanding, acknowledgment, and connection to our daily needs and preferences. It is not a random act but intentional and practical. Self-care requires a holistic approach, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

During a crisis, anxiety and increase stress can quickly bring about mental fatigue. Preserve your energy by focusing on things you can control. Begin with your feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond. In the midst of chaos, it is also essential to implement ways to quiet your mind. Practicing mindfulness and meditation have several benefits. Mindfulness is a therapeutic way to calm the mind and bring awareness to your feelings, thoughts, and body sensations in the present moment. It also has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

Also, meditation has similar prosperities. It enhances focus, attention span, and stress management skills. There are several different ways to practice; spiritual, mindfulness, and focused meditation. Many free apps are available to guide beginners, support experts, and serve everyone else in between. If meditating feels awkward, consider journaling. Mindful journaling is meditative writing that makes your thoughts tangible and present.   

Anger, grief, depression, and fear are natural emotional reactions during a crisis and can lead to emotional exhaustion. Practicing daily emotional hygiene is imperative. Begin by recognizing your emotions without judgment and have self-compassion. Emotional recovery from a crisis takes time, patience, and self-love. Resist the urge to disconnect emotionally and socially. Cultivate healthy and supportive relationships with others and share your feelings. Protect your emotions by avoiding ruminating negative thoughts and overexposure to media coverage of the crisis. Focus on physical activity or solving a puzzle as distractions. Freedom from negative thoughts will have a positive effect on your overall well-being.

Common physical reactions to a crisis may include fatigue/ loss of energy, sleep disturbances, headaches, change in appetite, and gastrointestinal problems. Although you may have a change in your appetite, continue to eat well-balanced meals regularly. Also, avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol and drink an adequate amount of water daily. Hydration is a form of self-care. Dehydration can alter your mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly. It is recommended that the average person needs eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily to aid in digestion, transport of nutrients, regulate body temperature, and enhance brain function.

Exercise and physical activity can also be effective treatments for stress management.  A steady workout routine will benefit your mood, sleep, and physical health. One hundred fifty minutes per week (an average of 30 minutes a day) is recommended for the average adult. The key is consistency and finding a balance that works for you. Outdoor exercise is also good for your body and mind.

 Although it may be difficult to fall or stay asleep during difficult times, a consistent sleep schedule is essential to combat stress. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Seven to Nine hours of sleep is recommended per night for most adults. Avoid stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) and use of electronic devices prior to bedtime. When possible, turn off cell phone alerts and notifications to eliminate disturbances. A crisis has the potential to disrupt every area of our life. It is usually an abrupt and unexpected occurrence. Self-care is essential to effectively manage stress and avoid being overwhelmed. Choose the area in which you are struggling the most and begin there. Maintain a balance between relaxation techniques, physical activities, and mental fitness. We cannot change the inevitable, but practicing intentional self-care allows us to respond effectively and build emotional resilience. 

Keeonna Williams, MSN, RN
Author of “The Golden Rose: My Journey Towards Conquering Stress”
CEO of Holistic Balance LLC



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