Self-care is attending to your own physical, emotional and mental health needs and making yourself, your wellness and your wholeness a priority in your own life. It is important for everyone, even those who think that care of another person matters more than care of themselves. Anyone who physically/emotionally cares for others must care for themselves in order to be of any real support to another person, no matter how much they love that other person.
Self-care is critical. It doesn’t mean that you ignore the needs of others and refuse to be a source of love, support and kindness to others. It simply means that just as you help and support others, you treat yourself as a person worthy of that same support. Self-care is a critical component in caring and supporting others as families and communities. (Even for us Black women…no more “mules.”)
Self-care is always important, but especially after experiencing a trauma or witnessing a tragedy. Even witnessing a trauma/tragedy through secondary (i.e. a person tells you about a trauma they themselves experienced) or tertiary sources (i.e. learning about a trauma or tragedy through social media/the news) can have adverse affects on a person. Knowing my own responses to both personal traumas that I have experienced and secondary/tertiary experiences with trauma and tragedy (most recently the Boston Marathon bombings), as well as having a background in mental health made me re-realize the importance of self-care.
For example, being on Twitter in the aftermath of a tragedy can be difficult. Why? Incorrect and rapidly shared information creates more chaos and confusion. Jokes and overly graphic images are shared. The tweets themselves can be triggers for people who lived through a similar tragedy. Racism and xenophobia appears whenever there is a mass tragedy, if it is deemed “terrorism” (which is a political label, with an attached racist and nationalist/imperialist undertone).
Below are links with great posts on post-tragedy self-care tips.
- Self-care during tragedy - The Reiki Co.
- Self-care in the wake of a shared tragedy - Joyful Heart Foundation
- Self-Care Tips for Emergency and Disaster Response Workers [PDF] - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Many links and resources on coping with trauma, in general - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(I am not endorsing or affiliated with any of the companies/blogs mentioned; I just think their particular posts are helpful).
With the Boston Marathon bombings, there are those right there (victims, survivors, witnesses, emergency personnel, healthcare workers, families, friends) who need help and hopefully are getting the help that they need. I wish Boston families peace, healing, safety, and comfort right now. Giving to others and supporting others matter.
I also want those who may feel “far away” (i.e. in another state or country and are experiencing triggering effects) to take good care of themselves. Self-care matters.