Event Theme: Trauma and Self-Care
Question: How do I practice emotional hygiene in a world where trauma is problematic?
Themed Reading and Watching
Why Self-Care is So Important
Most of us grew up believing that the more you sacrifice, the bigger the reward. In high school, for example, I once signed up for a debate tournament and forced myself to stay up all night preparing. I figured pushing myself to the point of exhaustion had to pay off. Of course, the next day, I was so exhausted I could barely form coherent sentences, and I tanked.
The point is, it’s easy to take the “hard work pays off” adage too far, to the point that it becomes counterproductive. Your abilities are worn. Your skills aren’t as sharp. You lose focus. You might think you’re working hard, and maybe you are in some ways, but you’re not working efficiently.
Self-Care Isn’t Just Important, It’s Crucial
It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves because when we’re busy and overwhelmed, even a small reprieve feels like a luxury. So actually taking time to eat lunch, exercise, and hang out with friends? That just feels like slacking.
That mindset backfires, though. Self-care actually helps you make progress faster for a few reasons:
- Self-care prevents “overload burnout”: We’ve all been there: you push yourself to the point that you can’t take anymore so you just give up. Self care helps you avoid getting to that point.
- Self-care reduces the negative effects of stress: A small amount of stress can serve a purpose, but after a while, it just breaks down your mind and body. Taking care of yourself means keeping your stress from taking over so you can function at full capacity.
- Self-care helps you refocus: When I was stuck on a complicated math problem in school, my teacher would suggest walking away and coming back—taking a break, basically. Breaks are the epitome of self-care, and studies show they’re great for helping you perform better.
We cant avoid failure, cure social ills like racism, or completely avoid natural or situational disasters. But there are three things we can do in our self-care program to safeguard our well-being and build emotional resilience: taking action when we face challenges, changing our responses to unpleasant occurrences, and taking much needed breaks.
How to Practice Emotional First Aid
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