• Charna Cassell, MFT

Self-care: What if you were your best friend?

How are you being tender with yourself during this distressing time?

While sheltering in place, as we try to find ground and a new rhythm, some of us feel paralyzed, while others are in overdrive. Knowing where to start with self-care can be challenging, especially if you are so burnt-out taking care of other family members or working long hours. For many people, prioritizing your needs or wants, doing what feels good and is kind to yourself, was not okay in your household growing up. Maybe you were told it's weak to have needs or you were told you were selfish, not special or needy? It takes practice to beknow how to take care of yourself and often we need to know what it would look like.

What works for your friend may not work for you. I love baths, while my friend hates them. They stress him out like he is marinating in his own filth. Clearly, he never saw the Calgon, take me away commercials in the '80s.

Here is my list: Epsom salt baths, extra-long puppy cuddles, walks, virtual dance classes, qi gong, reading, faux fur blankets and thick hiking socks, bread, and stew, staying connecting with friends that make me laugh.

What is helping you get through this period in time?

Decades of somatic healing, meditation, silent retreats, traveling alone prepared me for spending extended time with my own internal chatter, sensation, and emotions and remain regulated. Additionally, lots of writing projects, baking cookies, playing fetch with my dog and her favorite stuffy or one of my socks, sleeping in, permission to write for hours or watch Netflix, hiking in the rain when no one else is around, taking calls from friends and family only when I have the bandwidth and not answering when I need to be quiet, being of service, which gets me out of my own head and widens my perspective, light sessions with the Lucia light, making lists, recognizing what I can have control over (how organized my closet is) and what I can't (making sure everyone in the world is safe).

There are moments where accepting this is devastating and others where it helps unwind me and halt emotional spinning.

One thing I have been grateful for these past few weeks is walking my dog 4x a day around my neighborhood. During these walks, I get to monitor the evolution of the spring blooms. I marvel over the slow steady effort it takes for leaves and petals to push out, following their clear trajectory. It is equally remarkable that we have bodies that know how to grow teeth and mend bones.

Treat yourself tenderly, especially right now. The way you would a beloved pet. Catch how you talk to yourself. We are all doing our best. This is a Harm Reduction approach time. Try to do what causes the least amount of harm and stop judging yourself for judging yourself. Flush the shoulds down the toilet.

If you are at a loss for where to start, check out these lists below for anxiety-reducing practices, exercise, meditation, somatic care :

This wellness list, which is full of great exercise links to help manage anxiety, was shared by a professor at Cal State University East Bay (Hayward, CA), who created this document to share with her students in the Educational Leadership for Social Justice EdD program.

This resource list was created by a somatic therapist in the bay area:

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