To round out our series about self-care that was serendipitously started at the beginning of the seemingly unending series of stress, tension, panic, uncertainty and lockdowns, it’s time to talk about social self-care. Just as we have all been emerging from our individual spaces of restrictions and lockdowns, it’s timely to explore how we can reinvent ourselves socially in healthy and mindful ways.
First, let’s have a quick reminder about what self-care is. Self-care refers to any and all activities that we perform holding the intention of improving our lives through stress reduction, increasing energy and boosting our general and mental health. Acts of self-care sit on a spectrum and can be as simple as enjoying your favourite hot beverage, right up to taking a holiday. If you missed any of our previous blogs on the domains of self-care, feel free to take a look through our other blog posts.
The social domain speaks to our need as social creatures with a mammalian brain to engage in meaningful ways with other people. Often when we are experiencing stress or Vicarious Trauma, due to many of the symptoms, the social aspect of our lives is one of the first things to diminish. It’s important to keep in mind a few key questions…What do you like to do when spending time with friends? How often do you do this activity? Are there any events or occasions coming up in your social circle?
But a word of caution…don’t feel compelled to rush straight back out there. With Christmas upon us and the revolving door of parties, gatherings, celebrations and social engagements, it can be very easy to slip into a mindset of needing to attend everything because we have been unable to for so long. The 2021 version of FOMO. This can be unhealthy for our mental health, ESPECIALLY if we don’t have any boundaries around our social needs. Here are three tips you can used for social self-care this Christmas season.
1. Time limits – pick a time limit for social occasions. Especially for ones you are not particularly pumped to attend. Plan ahead and give yourself an out time.
2. Have a codeword/sign – If you are going out with your partner or friends, have a pre-determined codeword you can use with each other to indicate that you want to leave. You can use this codeword if you’re tired, overwhelmed or feel uncomfortable in any way. You are best to plan this before you head out and there has to be trust between you that if one of you uses the codeword, the other will respect it and act accordingly to what you planned.
3. Don’t overbook yourself – it has been a big year. Strike that; a big 2 years. We have seen and experienced unprecedented times, changes, unpredictability, fear, and isolation from our families, friend and loved ones. We instinctively want to jump back into our lives from before and see and experience everything that we have been missing. Trust me, I do too. However, it may not be in the best interest of your mental health to push yourself right now. Sure, spend time with those closest to you, but beyond that inner circle take a beat. Plan for catch-ups after Christmas or New Years. Book weekends away for January or February. Make sure you leave plenty of time for rest and relaxation for yourself.
Our social lives have been missing for such a long time now. It’s natural to want to jump back in, but consider taking some time to also make sure the other domains are still addressed. We need all of the domains of self-care balanced in order to support our mental health in the long term.
From our CBE family to yours, have a wonderful holiday season. Take care of yourselves and each other. We can’t wait to see you in 2022.