This month, I’m continuing our exploration of how we can cultivate resilience in our lives! We’ve been taking a deep dive into specific skills we can master in order to approach difficulty with more resilience, and this month, we will be looking at the 5th of 6 skills- practicing mental flexibility. (more…)
As we continue to explore the specific skills we can work to develop to increase our own resilience, I want to point our attention to the 4th skill, developing a sense of purpose. Catch up on the previously discussed skills here, here, and here! (more…)
As we continue to explore how to develop skills that cultivate a resilient spirit, we turn our attention this month to a popular buzzword you may even be a little weary of- self-care!
Self-care is a concept that we hear lots about in terms of our mental wellbeing, but how many of us can really cite what effective self-care is, or why it matters in terms of our resilience? It may seem like a trendy reason to “treat yo self”, but where do you draw the line between self-centered behaviors and meaningful work that really sustains and rebuilds you?
Self-Care: Practicing Wellness
Self-care is the act of focusing our thoughts and behaviors onto things that contribute to our own wellbeing. It’s tending to the basic building blocks of mental health. Self-care can be found in a range of different areas of our life- social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and so on. For example, at times we may find ourselves in need of some social self-care- checking in with friends or family, serving others, or attending a meaningful event in spite of your never ending to-do list. Other times, we may need to turn our attention to physical self-care- making effort and time to reboot and get serious about sleep, focusing on adequate hydration and nutrition, or investing time in discovering movement your body enjoys. How can you imagine yourself addressing self-care needs in areas of emotional, spiritual, or intellectual wellbeing? As you can see, self-care can take many forms and look different depending on the individual and the season of life you find yourself in.
Don’t know where to start?
I would recommend downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, or making a goal to practice mindfulness through activities like journaling, yoga, or other spiritual practices like prayer. Mindfulness practice is something that doesn’t have to be involved or picture perfect, and the benefits are plentiful! Mindfulness has been shown to help slow down our reactions and build feelings of peace and habits of rest into our life.
Myths of Self-Care
Now that we’ve talked about what self-care is, let’s talk about a few things that self-care is not! Self-care is not selfish. It’s not frivolous. It’s not something that has to be expensive or time consuming. Self-care is also not a one-and-done kind of thing! The goal with self-care is to build it into your routine so that you are regularly filling your bucket.
Self-Care and Resilience
The tie between self-care and resilience is that through the regular and effective practice of caring for yourself, you are giving yourself resources to manage stress. We all probably can think of friends or loved ones who deal with stress by numbing out or turning to maladaptive coping (drugs and other risky behaviors). You may even recognize those tendencies in yourself! However, when we are regularly practicing self-care, we go into stress better equipped to handle what comes our way. When we practice effective self-care, we reserve within ourselves personal wellsprings of resilience!
Give Yourself Permission
While you consider your own approach to self-care, remember the fundamental truth that you are worthy of care. Give yourself permission to explore areas of self-care and experiment with what fills you up and leaves you renewed. You are worth the effort to take care of!
We are memory collectors. Memories shape the narratives of our lives. They shape our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world. Memories contain stories as well as the full range of emotional experience. Memories hold our humanity. (more…)
Welcome back for another segment in “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit”. You can catch up on our introduction HERE and part one HERE. This month, we are going to be digging into how we experience distress, why it matters, and how to increase our coping through distress tolerance skills. (more…)
A few weeks ago, I went out with my camera to capture some of the early blossoming trees. During the pandemic, it has been easy to miss some of the beautiful things going on in the world as we are confined to our homes for longer periods of the day than usual. I was in awe as I soaked in the blossoming Spring even in the midst of worldwide difficulties. Since then I’ve been reflecting on what about photography feels so meaningful to me. It’s not just about having nice pictures to display or have as my iPhone background. The process of taking photos is what means something to me and as I’ve gotten more into photography over the past several years, I’ve noticed my perspective on life changing. Although this pandemic is anxiety-inducing, dangerous, and confusing, it also presents new opportunities to see things through a new “lens” and with new perspective. (more…)
The Carr Fire: Redding, CA, July 26, 2018
In the summer of 2018, the Carr Fire struck my hometown of Redding, CA, destroying well over 1,000 homes and taking nearly a dozen lives. The city shifted from a hot summer day to a hellscape in minutes. Skyscraper-tall towers of flame engulfed forests and neighborhoods, forming actual tornadoes of fire. The roads backed up as thousands fled the city, many losing their clothes and hair to the embers. (more…)
What a crazy world we are living in right now! If you’re like me, I’m finally starting to settle into a good COVID-19 routine, but I am really missing my friends, my co-workers, and being out and about. It’s been difficult for me to stay in a relatively small space all day (I see my clients, study, eat, watch TV, read, work, sleep, etc. all in the same place!) Before this global pandemic, I never would have imagined a time where going to the grocery store once every few weeks would feel like a luxury and a treat!
One thing has helped keep me excited and looking to the future during this quarantine. My boyfriend, John, is getting a new puppy this week! I am so excited for a cutie little furball to keep us entertained and bring some new amusement into our monotonous days. John is very committed to making sure this pup has a good home and is given lots of structure so he can learn and grow. This means lots of play, lots of training, lots of potty breaks, and lots of close supervision and patience. I didn’t grow up with animals, so this feels like completely new territory to me. Truthfully, it kind of seems like a daunting task, but I am also really looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be fun to see our efforts pay off as the puppy learns new things (you know I want to teach him to fetch and play dead). Plus, it’s not like we’re going anywhere anytime soon and this will be a welcome distraction.
To prepare for this little guy to come home, John and I have been watching lots of YouTube videos from expert dog trainers. Well, mostly John has, but I’ve been trying my best to do my share of puppy prep as well. In almost every video I’ve seen, the patient and understanding dog trainer emphasizes again and again that the puppies he’s training are just babies, many of them only on the earth for the past 10 weeks or so. Each video discusses how important it is to be patient with the pups as they’re learning. They don’t know how to regulate their bladders or what is and isn’t okay to chew on or how to self-soothe when they’re scared at night. When we pick up the puppy this week, I’ve committed to doing my best to remember that he’s just a baby and needs me to help teach him, give him structure, and help him understand how to interact with the world. He’s not a bad boy for getting off track or making mistakes, he’s just figuring things out and needs me to be understanding of that!
As I’ve been thinking about puppy training, I’ve thought a lot about how in a lot of ways, we, as humans, are just like these new little puppies, still learning how to interact with the world. Why do we expect to know how to handle a global pandemic? We’ve never experienced this before! Why do we expect to move quickly through eating disorder recovery? We’re just babies and haven’t dealt with something like this. Why do we expect to know how to engage healthily in romantic and other relationships? We’re still just newbies! Even if we’ve been facing challenges and issues for years, this is our first crack at being human and no one really gave us a blueprint as to how to do this and make it through all of the new experiences that will be thrown our way.
Brene Brown, a prolific researcher and therapist, talks about these first time experiences as opportunities to: normalize our emotional reactions, put things into perspective, and reality check our expectations (Brown, 2020). With a new puppy, I might need to normalize that it makes sense that he is having trouble understanding some commands and puppy training takes lots of time (and furthermore, it is normal that I am struggling to figure out how to teach him!) I might then put things into perspective by trying to think about how scary and strange it must be for the pup to be in a new home, without his brothers and sisters or mom, with a new routine and new people around him. Finally, I might reality check expectations that I have of this little furry baby. I might also reality check expectations I have for myself in being patient, attentive, regimented, etc.
During this uncertain time, I’ve found it extremely helpful for me to take some time to be gentle and patient with myself as I stumble through knowing how to be quarantined, work from home, etc. Hey, this is my first pandemic! Even though we’ve been at this for about a month now, I’m still trying to figure out a solid routine, keep myself productive, enjoy and embrace rest, and stay connected to my friends. I’m only 4 weeks old when it comes to dealing with pandemics, so I think I can cut myself some slack and offer myself oodles of grace.
This idea can apply to non-pandemic related areas of our lives as well. As stated earlier, this idea can even apply to things we’ve been working on and struggling with for years such as relationships, school, mental health, etc. Recognizing our relative youth and inexperience can help us be a little gentler with ourselves. Gentleness is not weakness or letting ourselves off the hook, in fact, I’ve seen gentleness be more helpful in propelling us forward than criticism and judgement ever have.
If you find yourself struggling through this pandemic, I am with you! It’s new to us and can be really overwhelming to navigate. If your to-do list is left undone, your exercise app left unopened, your dishes left unwashed, and your children’s “online learning” left incomplete …offer yourself some grace. You’re new at this pandemic thing…and new at this life thing! We’ll just keep trying and learning and soon we’ll get the hang of it. 🙂
Browne, B. (Producer). (March 19, 2020). Brene on FFTs. [Podcast]. Retrieved from https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-on-ffts/