International Self-Care Day with Spiritual Care Providers, Grygoriy Chorniy & Mary Ann Blaksley

By Chiara Marcello

July 24 is International Self-Care Day, a day to remind yourself how important it is to take some “me time.” With the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, self-care has become more essential than ever, yet many have neglected to incorporate it into their daily routines. As Spiritual Care Providers, Grygoriy Chorniy and Mary Ann Blaksley witness first-hand the emotional and physical effects caused by a lack of self-care. Today, they shed insight on the necessity of making it a part of daily life.

Why is self-care important?

Self-care accumulates with time and is not always as obvious as back pain or a sore throat. Individuals tend to focus their attention on others rather than themselves, which hinders their ability to recognize when they are working themselves too hard and need a break. Taking time away from friends, family, and technological devices creates more focus on the body and the mind, which is necessary to regenerate and be with others in a healthy manner. Simply put: “In case of an emergency on a plane, the first thing they tell you is to put your oxygen first, then help others. Unless you replenish your oxygen, you are incapable of helping anyone else.”

What are the largest warning signs that someone requires self-care?

The largest warning sign is when others begin telling someone that they look tired, exhausted, and not like themselves. Internally, we may know that this is true, but a majority of people neglect to accept it. The body is like a machine, and when its engine burns out, it sends signals and disconnects at different levels. Ignoring these signals creates problems later on.

How has COVID-19 affected the ability to achieve self-care?

Achieving self-care throughout the pandemic has been much more challenging. Fear of bringing the virus home to loved ones has led to many taking on extra shifts. This leads to more work and less rest, along with a greater disregard for the warning signs the body sends. For some people, self-care may also require a change of location and scenery. They enjoy taking time off and going on vacation, but the pandemic has greatly limited their ability to do so. While self-care is still possible, COVID has made it drastically harder.

What are the steps required to practice self-care?

  1. Recognize that you may be overworked and give yourself permission to become attentive to what you need.
  2. Assess what is best for your mind and body and construct a plan on how to achieve it:
    • Reach out to others
    • Enjoy nature
    • Seek out reliable resources
    • Schedule a trip or time away
    • Connect with religion and places of worship
  3. Have the courage to act on your plan and remove the barrier between recognizing the need for self-care and actually achieving it.
  4. Balance your “to-do list” moving forward to avoid being overwhelmed.

Any additional advice?

Practice thanksgiving.

Each day, take a moment to list what went right throughout the day, as well as what you have to be thankful for. By doing so, you begin to realize that your stressors are much less than your thanksgiving.