While the second wave of restrictions due to Covid-19 are disheartening as we head into the holiday season, it is more important than ever to be both intentional and flexible about looking after ourselves. In last month’s post we discussed how we ‘think’ about self-care. This month we will focus on our behaviours or what we ‘do’ to promote self-care.
Foundational components of self-care such as eating enough throughout the day, taking breaks, getting eight hours of sleep, and drinking enough water are fundamental to well-being and resiliency. As a helpful reflection:
What are the first things that you neglect when you are feeling low-energy or stressed?
Do you notice certain ‘signals’ that come up or habits that you have when you are running low?
Personally, I don’t drink enough water and I drop things or bump into walls or doors because I’m not mindful when I’m stressed.
When these signals go off, be specific about how you are going to re-establish foundational self-care. Are you going to prep meals? Have ‘screen free’ time before bed? If you are in a relationship, even taking 10-30 minutes after work to decompress before engaging with one another can go a long way for managing stress and conflict, particularly if you are working from home in close quarters.
Activity is Medicine
During these challenging times, remember the phrase, ‘activity is medicine…and although we don’t always feel like taking our medicine, it helps us to get better’. In fact, behavioural activation is a treatment for depression that centres around scheduling fulfilling activities in a structured way, sometimes hour by hour.
Here is an example of a behavioural activation table that breaks down activity scheduling into morning, afternoon, and evening, Monday-Sunday.
Exercise, going outside, reading, zoom calls with friends, meditation, or cooking dinner with your partner, are all great things to schedule for yourself but make sure you find meaningful and restorative activities for you. Action often precedes motivation and if you don’t schedule it….it is probably not going to happen, just make sure to schedule in some real downtime.
Here is a more in-depth explanation of behavioural activation from psychologytools.com if you would like to read further:
Although this holiday season may look different, maintaining holiday rituals and spending time with loved ones, even virtually, will be important for staying connected and coming together in support of one another this winter. It can be anxiety provoking to plan for the holidays but get to know the restrictions around what you are able to do, approach what you can control, and remember that we are all respecting these restrictions so that we can pull through this thing together.
Brain Storming, Experimenting, and Self-Compassion
The fact is that you might have to brainstorm new ways to take care of yourself with everything going on. Be flexible and set achievable goals that you can build upon and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Be curious. Try not to view every attempt you make at taking care of yourself as a ‘silver-bullet’ that can succeed or fail but as an experiment to help you better understand what works for you.
And finally, be self-compassionate, it is normal to experience feelings of grief, anxiety, sadness, or loneliness as we go through this second wave. Listen to yourself and respect your needs. If what you need most is to put on a light Netflix show after a long day and get in bed, then it is probably well deserved.
Kristofer is a registered clinical counsellor with a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology. Kristofer is a counsellor at the Bach Counselling Group and is also a long-term client of Treloar Physio. Outside of counselling, Kristofer enjoys staying active in whatever way possible. He currently trains in kickboxing/Muay Thai, and likes weight-lifting, stretching, and basketball. However, Kris always likes to find new sports and activities and has recently started practicing the Wim Hof method. Kristofer is also an avid musician, mainly playing bass guitar, drums, and singing, and he loves his other career as a high-school woodwork and guitar teacher. As an integrative-counsellor, Kristofer uses a variety of evidence based therapies such as cognitive-behavioural (CBT), person-centered, and solution-focused therapies to meet the needs of the client. Kristofer offers counselling to adults and youth dealing with anxiety, depression, chronic-pain, self-esteem, grief, anger, stress management, and relational and communication issues.