With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and the 2020 New Year around the corner, it is a good time to reflect and evaluate how well we take care of ourselves. Our lives become so hectic, that we forget to do the things that make us feel fulfilled and good about ourselves. Dr. Helen Coons defines self-care as “one’s action around physical, emotional, relational, perhaps professional, educational, and, for some people, spiritual wellbeing that reflects the way that we take care of ourselves on the most fundamental levels.”
Self-care is all about making small and purposeful efforts for ourselves including spending time with the important people in our lives. Self-care can look different for everyone – for example blocking out time for a date with a partner or planning healthy meals instead of reaching for sugary snacks. Making these small efforts can provide more motivation, pleasure and cut back on stress, worry and for some people, irritability.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we are more likely to feel fatigued and prone to physical symptoms (headaches and digestive issues). The most important thing is to take intentional and purposeful steps to care for ourselves.
Alisha Ramos, the creator of the weekly email newsletter Girls’ Night In, helps conceptualize her own self-care as an imaginary pie chart in her head, with slices for spending time on work, family, friends, and herself. And whenever one of those sections gets out of whack — for instance, not seeing friends for three weeks — it is time to make a practical plan to correct the lack of balance in the allocation of time.
Self-care includes developing, maintaining and appreciating close relationships. Gratitude for those close relationships creates a sense of wellbeing and empathy which helps to get through life’s tough times.
While eating your pecan pie at Thanksgiving, think about your own pie chart and ask yourself if all of your slices are present and in a proportionate manner?
Shaina Gordon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Founder of Online Therapy of Atlanta. She is a member of The Blue Dove Foundation’s Medical Advisory Committee. The Blue Dove Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness of, end the stigma of, and educate individuals about mental health and substance abuse in the Jewish community. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or addiction, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or visit The Blue Dove Foundation’s resources page.