Self Care in a Time of Crisis

Does "self care" qualify as a buzz word (phrase?) yet? It seems like it's popping up everywhere lately.

(I mean, I don't care, I'm still going to use it. I'm just wondering.)

Self care is something that I've been focusing on more lately, especially as I've gone through mental health struggles. (See this post on "me time" for one example.) I've had to learn to allow myself to do things not because I have to or because someone else needs me to, but because I want to. It doesn't sound like it would be that hard, but it kind of is.

Especially in a time of crisis. 

In case you're just tuning in, I've had a bit of a crisis of my own lately, in the form of a house fire that destroyed the entire interior of our home, and everything in it. (Here's the story. Here's some details on the damage.)

As I've been dealing with the fire and all its repercussions, I find my testimony of self care renewed. Taking care of myself has been absolutely essential. I have to, have to, have to do it. Because if I don't, I won't function at my best. And if I don't function at my best, I can't do everything I need to do. And if I can't do everything I need to do, it doesn't get done.


Now, I know not everyone is going to have to deal with a house fire. But it's almost certain that we are all going to have times of crisis in our lives. And so, with my own crisis still ongoing in many ways, I thought I'd share some of my ideas about how to care for yourself in a time of crisis. 

Acknowledge the crisis. 

Do you know what's weird? Realizing that something terrible has happened to you. Whether it's the death of a loved one, a tough diagnosis, a car accident, or yes, a house fire, it's almost surreal to step back and say, "That just happened to me." That is the stuff of movies, of GoFundMe pages, of Primetime TV. It's not the stuff of our own lives...until it is.

And you know what? It's totally okay, and even helpful, to say, "Wow. This sucks." It's healthy to say, "I am going through a crisis right now." Don't write it off as not-a-big-deal. Don't try to convince yourself that everything is business as usual. You are going through a hard thing. Only by acknowledging that will you allow yourself to get the help you need, so you can, in time, heal in a healthy way.

Know yourself. 

I think a lot of times, we hear "self care" and we think "day at the spa" or "meditation." Those things are great, but that's not what self care looks like for everyone.

Right after the fire, my sister picked me up so we could go shopping for some basic necessities. Along with the underwear, clothes, toothbrushes, and soap, we went to Barnes and Noble to get me a book. Why? Because books help me relax. They contribute to my self care. We also got me some ZzzQuil, because I knew that I was going to have a hard time sleeping. 

The moral of the story: don't think that you have to spend a lot of time or a lot of money to take care of yourself in a time of crisis. Think about the things that comfort you, that help you relax and feel just a little bit better for a little while. (Think: favorite snacks, scents, books, movies, music, etc.)

Let people help you.

Listen—I know you could get through your crisis yourself. I know that you're strong, and smart, and capable. But. People want to help you. They need to help you. And guess what? You probably need them to, also. More than you realize. 

I have never felt closer to my friends, family, and community than I did in the days and weeks following the fire. If there was a silver lining in that experience, that was it. Would we have been fine on our own? Sure. Of course we would have. But seeing the goodness in peoples' hearts, the generosity they were willing to give...that was such a game-changer for me, in more ways than one. It made me feel hopeful, and loved, and acknowledged. It made me feel like I wasn't alone, and that there is a lot of good in this world, even though there's also a lot of pain.

The master class in letting people help you involves actually asking for help. I know that's tough. (It's really, really tough...for me, anyway.) But there are people that want to help you, and you need help. If the missing link is just you asking for it...then try asking. (You know, if you want.) 

Make it simpler.

You need to simplify your routine, wherever possible (and wherever you want to). For us, this meant a good amount of eating out at first; I was not in the position to shop for groceries or cook. Even weeks later, I signed up for those meal delivery services (e.g. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh) to make dinner time a little simpler. I've also had a house cleaner come, because deep cleaning just isn't something I can give my energy to right now. 

I guess the gist of it is: don't feel like you have to do everything that you "normally" do. Your life is not "normal" right now, so you shouldn't feel like you have to meet every expectation you usually have for yourself. Simplify where you can, and focus on what really matters.

Let it out. 

Your feelings in this whole thing are very important. You need to find some way to express them, rather than trying to ignore, change, or bury them.

For me, this has meant two things: therapy and writing. Thankfully, I've been pretty good about at least one of these: I've been going to counseling pretty regularly and am happy to say that it's been helping. I haven't been doing as good of a job with writing it all down (mostly because all my writing time these days goes towards work projects), but I'd like to do better at that. 

I also think it's important to share your feelings with the people closest to you. I have a hard time with that—even with Dallin—but it's something I'm working on. I usually hesitate because it makes me feel embarrassed, but it ultimately adds to that "letting people help you" effect, and that's definitely a good thing. 


So, there you have it. My thoughts about taking care of yourself in a time of crisis. Maybe they aren't universal, but maybe one or two of them will ring true for you.

And hey, if you're going through something tough, just know this: you are worth taking care of. It is worth putting time, effort, and even money into getting yourself through this in the most positive way possible. You can do it. Promise. 

Thanks for reading, y'all. I'll check in again soon.