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Challenging times and what to do about it by Marielle Duke

We find ourselves in challenging times. For many of us, we find that our identities and rights are being directly challenged in today’s political, social, and cultural climate. For some, this can create a sense of fear, dread, and exhaustion that can mirror our fight or flight responses. If the world is telling us we don’t belong, can we really feel safe?

When we have these moments, caring for ourselves becomes more important than ever. Now, we’ve all heard about self-care. We’ve seen the advertisements. We may conjure vague images of people laughing over salads or taking candle-lit bubble baths. That’s not quite what I am talking about today. Instead, I want to talk about being proactive in our care.

So many of us tend to put the needs of others before our own and only realize we are running on empty when it’s too late. I see this with my clients in caregiver roles, healing professors, and activist roles. They are so used to jumping in to support those around us it becomes second nature.

How can we learn to be proactive in our care so we can catch this before it’s too late? Here’s a few tips to try:

1. Make sure to take breaks. Now, I know this can be easier said than done, but it’s all about intention. Don’t have time for an hour break? No problem. Start with a 30 minute. Even that sounds impossible? Start with 10 minutes. The goal is to be intentional. Tell yourself “I am taking this break because I deserve rest too. I need a moment to recharge. It is okay to step away.” The more we tell ourselves this, the more we begin to believe it as truth.

2. Learn how to set and enforce boundaries. This is a toughie for so many of us! If we’ve never set boundaries before, it can feel impossible. If people have broken our boundaries in the past, it can feel hopeless. But it’s neither! Start with identifying your needs in the moment. The more we are in touch with ourselves, the more we can communicate our needs. People that respect and love you will be able to honor your boundaries the more clear you become with them. We can’t expect people to read our minds.

3. Don’t forget the basics! It sounds simple, but we can get so swept up in life we can forget basic care sometimes. Remember to drink water, eat throughout the day, get some rest. It really makes a difference.

4. Remember you’re not alone. Remind yourself of the personal support you have around you. Is there a friend, family member, colleague, partner, therapist you trust? Reach out to them. We as humans exist and heal in community. Find yours. If you need help with that, reach out to your therapist! We love resources!

5.Celebrate small moments. When we are in fight or flight more or facing burnout, we tend to focus on the negative, the fear, what we feel we need to do to survive or even just “get through the day.” In focusing on small moments we feel good, feel seen, feel loved, we can rewire our brains slowly but surely.

Have other favorite tips you love that support you in challenging times? Send us a message or comment below!

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