Whether in high school, graduate school, or well into your career- change is inevitable.
As you’re going through these transitions, holistic care is all the more important. Keep tabs on your well-being mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, and take breaks when needed. Find something that relaxes you- a hobby or a place- and engage with it regularly in order to remain refreshed and ready for journey ahead.
Self-care is not just a result of a stressful time; in fact, self-care should be practiced and maintained throughout your life in order to prove most beneficial. In the face of life’s constant changes, keep self-care practices a consistent component and you will be able to handle small and large stresses more efficiently.
Accessing care on the reservation can be difficult, and in areas without I.H.S. it can be even harder. The power of the internet lies in its unending resources, so please take the time to explore this information and resources for self-care.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Life is full of big and small stresses, often several simultaneously. This stress can come as a result of trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue, or other sources; whatever the cause, establishing consistent self-care practices can help. Without these practices, you risk adopting unhealthy coping habits to find relief and escape. If you currently have a drinking or drug problem, contact your nearest IHS for help and check here for resources. If you feel suicidal, please call the free National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
What Does Self-Care Look Like?
Self-care is a big term with a lot of options- that’s good news! There are countless ways to cope with stress and establish self-care practices. To put it broadly, it involves finding something that relaxes you- a hobby or a place- and engaging with it regularly in order to remain refreshed and ready for journey ahead.
Here are some more concrete ideas:
- Try Some Movement
- This can be a walk, a group fitness class, or just turning on your favorite song and dancing away in your room.
- The benefits of movement include a release of endorphins, improved energy, improved focus, and increased energy, just to name a few. See more here and an entire write-up from WeRNative here.
- Check Your Nutrition
- Paying attention to what you eat doesn’t have to mean a restrictive diet. On the contrary, the key to a balanced diet is precisely that- balance. The first step is to understand what you’re eating now and what needs to change. As with any change to habit or routine, this requires patience.
- Remember that with planning, regular meals, and smart snacking, food can give you long-lasting energy rather than causing food comas and discomfort.
See here for a list of great ideas and tips.
- Invest in Community
- Community is made up of those who surround you and support you. This extends beyond geographical borders and includes those who are there for you when you need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. This community of family and friends is especially important when you need to be reminded of your value and your purpose.
- WeRNative has a great collection of articles and blogs on this topic here.
- Get Those ZZZZs
- The importance of sleep cannot be emphasized enough. Without sufficient sleep, you aren’t able to fully commit to any project, person, or plan. Although the exact amount varies by person, approximately 8 hours of sleep is recommended each night. See more information and tips for a restful night here.
- Engage Your Spiritual Side
- The wisdom of your history and the peace that comes from being mindful are other great ways to practice self-care. Praying, attending ceremony, and diving into your beliefs can ground you. A solid foundation and grounding will allow you to weather storms and lean into the winds of change without faltering.
- Mindfulness means to connect with your body and mind in the present moment in order to honor the immediate space and time around you. This can also help reduce anxiety as you pull strength from inside you in that moment.
Mindfulness exercise: Get into a comfortable position that won’t cause you discomfort, with your feet on the floor and your back straight but not tense. Sit very still, breathing normally, in a quiet room or area. Now, pay attention to your thoughts for a few minutes. Don’t try to force thoughts or focus on specific thoughts. Also, don’t push thoughts away. Just watch what your mind generates and the process that it takes between each thought. If your mind wanders (i.e. you begin to plan the rest of your day), just take notice and guide yourself back to the task. The same goes for if you begin to judge yourself (“I’m bad at this”, “this is a waste of time”). Just take notice and go back to the task. Practice this for five minutes and record in a journal how you felt about the entire process.
- WeRNative Resources
- Native STAND (Standing Together Against Negative Decisions)
- University of Buffalo’s Student Self-Care Manual
- IHS: Overcoming Drug and Alcohol Addiction
- Suicide Prevention Hotline