Make Self-Care a Priority

By FCPS and Fairfax County Government
May 08, 2020

None of us expected this. We never thought we would find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, navigating this new road and learning new terms like social distancing. But here we are...adjusting and learning as we go while trying to manage all of the stress and anxiety this has produced.

It is in times like these that our own self-care becomes extremely important, perhaps even crucial. In order to be there for others, we must be sure to be there for ourselves…making it a necessity, not a luxury. If we can make self-care a priority, it will be our best stress management tool to guard against becoming worn down and physically depleted.    

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is not self-indulgence…it is self-preservation. It is taking care of ourselves so that we can then care for our families or others that depend on us. Self-care is unique to each person and is ever-changing as our life situations change. There are several elements to self-care:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Social

The healthiest self-care activities are ones that address each of these factors every day. They will vary in terms of time commitment and complexity.

Self-Care Ideas 

Given the uniqueness of our current situation and the restraints of social distancing, here are some ideas you may want to consider adding to your self-care toolbox.  

  • Take advantage of the time at home to try out new recipes and plan a weekly menu featuring healthy, nourishing meals.  
  • Create a self-comfort ritual you can use to begin or end your day and add some predictability such as blending up a smoothie each morning while experimenting with ingredients or picking a page out of a book of positive affirmations to read before bed each night.
  • Search online for silly animal videos you can watch for a few laughs.
  • Find a quiet room, close the door, and just take slow deep breaths for a few minutes.
  • Take a walk around the block while taking in the seasonal changes to the trees and plants.  
  • Start a puzzle. 
  • Pick up a craft project or hobby you have enjoyed in the past, or that you have always wanted to start. Learn a new skill such as knitting, quilting, or basic woodworking through online learning.
  • Disconnect from social media or news related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many musicians and artists are offering free performances online that could be a welcome way to unwind.
  • Take an extra-long shower.
  • Spend time outside gardening or sketching your surroundings.
  • If you are feeling the need for social contact, consider hosting a virtual book club or dinner party!
  • Create a soothing playlist with music you find relaxing or energizing.
  • Clean and organize closets, drawers, or rooms. The sense of order and control from this activity may be especially welcome now.

Setting Boundaries 

For those that are now home all day during the week, there seems to be no set beginning or end to the day. No commutes to and from school, work, or activities. For this reason, it is extremely important to make a schedule with a set “end time” where you leave your day behind, shut off your devices, and spend time doing things to recharge your mind and body.  

Create a Self-Care Schedule

Once you have come up with a list of self-care activities that work for you, you must find ways to incorporate them into your daily schedule, so they become a routine part of your week. Ideally, you want to create a comprehensive plan that includes all the elements of self-care every day and have a toolbox of activities you can go to in times of stress. There is no one way to do self-care and everyone’s plan will be different. Be open to trying different activities until you come up with a list of several options to provide you with choices. 

As you begin to implement your daily self-care schedule, check in to assess that it is effective. If you find yourself lacking a certain element, focus on it and find activities that help you feel fulfilled in that way.

When to Seek Help

If you find that your stress level is not improving despite engaging in self-care activities, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to consider seeking counseling or professional help. Medical professionals can help you put together a self-care plan that addresses specific needs, as well as treat burnout or mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.  

FCPS Employees

The FCPS Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a wonderful resource available to all FCPS employees and their household members. EAP services offer more than just counseling. Additional EAP services include assessment, work-life solutions, legal support, financial resources, tobacco cessation coaching, and more. All services are free and can be accessed virtually at this time. Find more information here.

Additional Resources to Help You Develop Your Personal Self-Care Plan 

FCPS Mental Wellness Consultations are Available

Any FCPS parent may request a 30-minute phone consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker. Parent consultations are available for all grade levels and student consultations are only available for students in middle and high school.

Healthy Minds is for parents, educators, and community-based providers who are interested in supporting student mental health and wellness. It represents a collaboration between FCPS’ Office of Intervention and Prevention Services and the Fairfax County Government. SUBSCRIBE to Healthy Minds and receive a periodic digest of our most recent articles.