The following article is part four of a five-week series focusing on raising awareness about domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and we hope to educate our community on this very important issue. 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Locally, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has been serving victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and child abuse since 1978. Last year, HCWC served 2,307 victims of abuse (face-to-face) primarily from Hays and Caldwell Counties. 1,047 of those were victims of domestic violence.
Belen Anchondo, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC – Non-Resident Bilingual Counselor II | Supervised by Sheri Cobarruvias, MS, LPC-S, NCC
Self-care: We hear that term mentioned quite often, but what does it really mean? Most people imagine a grand gesture, such as a spa day or a vacation.
This may feel out of reach for many since we think self-care costs money. What if it does not have to be a big, expensive, all-day event? Would that feel more obtainable? My goal is to explore the possible barriers to self-care and redefine the way we look at it.
Now more than ever, self-care should be a priority. We are all going through the pandemic of COVID-19. We all have faced certain losses and challenges because of it.
A loss is not always the death of a loved one. Some examples of losses during the pandemic are loss of normalcy. Many have lost jobs; others are adjusting to working from home.
We cannot visit loved ones, or even hug them as we used to. Families have had to adjust to being around each other more often, in a confined space which can cause conflict and stress.
Self-care is one of those tools that everyone can use to help adjust to the changes. Even children can benefit from a self-care routine.
If it is so useful and important, then why are there so many people that do not use self-care? Let’s explore possible barriers, which I hope will help break some stigma and encourage more use of self-care practices. Remember this: self-care is not selfish, it is necessary!
Barrier #1: I am too busy! This is a common response I hear, especially from moms.
We sometimes get so used to putting everyone else first that we leave ourselves for last. We never set aside any time for ourselves.
This can be harmful to our mental and physical health. I always describe it as a balloon. Imagine stress being the air we put into the balloon.
Every day we are putting a little more air into our balloon until one day it just cannot hold it in anymore and bursts.
This is much like our mind and body. If we continue holding in stress without having an outlet, we will burst.
What I recommend to my clients in counseling is setting aside just 5 minutes a day to themselves. Anyone can spare 5 minutes.
It can be in the morning before the kids wake up, or in the evening after they go to bed. Use these 5 minutes wisely.
Forget what the day holds. Forget what happened yesterday. I challenge you to simply sit and be in the moment. Just a few minutes of silence and deep breathing can do wonders for our mental and physical health!
Barrier #2: I do not know what self-care means. Believe it or not, I also hear this quite often. What do you mean self-care? What is that?
Self-care is so important, that I always ask my clients what their self-care practice is.
This is where most healing begins. Simply taking time to focus on ourselves and what we need. To many it is not as simple as it sounds, but it can be!
What is self-care? Self-care can be anything you want it to be. Self-care means taking care of yourself. What does that look like to you?
Do not compare what your friends or family do for self-care, because it looks different for everyone.
Some examples include taking a shower, putting on makeup, wearing clothes you like, exercising, laughing, spending time with friends, taking a nap, drinking tea, reading, or sometimes not doing anything.
The key to self-care is to ask yourself: what do I need in this moment? Listen to that small, still voice or nudge. If it is saying, “Man, I’m tired!”
Then maybe taking a nap is your self-care or going to bed earlier. The best way I can put it is be still and listen, identify the need, and then how you can meet that need no matter how big or small.
Barrier #3: I feel fine! I don’t really need self-care. I see way too many people push their feelings aside because they believe they do not have time to manage them or it would be inconvenient since they have so many things on their plate.
I would like to encourage everyone to be honest with themselves.
It is hard to acknowledge that we are struggling, but if we don’t then it is just going to keep building up just like that balloon.
Even if you are doing well, that’s great! Use a self-care practice to keep it going.
Whatever your barrier is, I hope that with this knowledge you recognize that a consistent self-care routine is achievable. Remember that any time you can set aside is enough.
Any little bit of self-care can help boost our mood, increase energy, and increase our ability to cope with stress. You are worth the extra 5 minutes!
For more information and content about self-care and self-compassion, visit our educational website www.StopTheHurt.org. For more information and services, please call our 24-hour HELPLine at (512) 396-4357 or visit www.hcwc.org.