Dawn Levin, Jewish Community Liaison
“What are you doing for self-care?” While the question is often asked with sincerity, the answer can be complicated. There is no shortage of tips and strategies for taking care of ourselves during this pandemic. Sometimes, however, the question itself can elicit feelings of stress or guilt. Many of us already have so much on our plates, the thought of adding one more task to our to-do list can feel overwhelming.
Making space for ourselves and our own well-being, especially at a time when there are others that need taking care of, is extremely important. While making the time and commitment to self-care can seem arduous, so too is the process of recovering if we ignore our own care or let ourselves run out of steam. Finding a couple of small moments to do something that makes us feel good each day can have cumulative benefits. It can boost our immune system, help us to manage high levels of stress and release endorphins, which are part of the natural reward circuit in our brains.
As winter approaches, our inner selves need nurturing and protecting just as our external bodies do. There are ways to approach the winter season as something more than just shorter, colder days. As we embark upon the winter solstice, some inspiration may be found by looking ahead to the change of season. On December 21, after the Hannukah lights have faded, there is another opportunity to create intention as we transition into winter and towards a new year. The change of season often represents a time of renewal in the natural world. In the winter months, gardens go dormant, animals hibernate, the sun fades earlier each day. What can we do to lean into nature’s cycle and embrace the opportunity to re-set this winter? How can we look inward to determine what we need?
What you do to nurture yourself is intensely personal. For some, it may be something like setting a timer to get up and do a few stretches after sitting in a desk chair each hour. For others, it might involve getting outside into the (crisp!) air, even if it is just walking out the door, going to the corner, and coming back in, waving “hello” to a neighbor or others also out in the street. Call a friend or family member on the phone , on FaceTime, or Zoom. For those who have a full house, connection can be cultivated by sending text messages or funny memes to friends, family or co-workers throughout the day. Even retreating to the car or out the back door for a few minutes for some privacy during a phone call can lift us up. Taking care of plants or pets during these darker months can also connect us to nature and be good for our spirits.
Remember, we are in a constant state of change. What you enjoy doing today may not be something you still enjoy next week. Start small. Engaging your senses is a way of reconnecting with your inner self. Is there a song that you used to love to listen to? Crank up the music and let it seep in. Is there a special scent that reminds you of a positive time in your life? See if you can find something in that scent and allow your senses to work in your favor. What about a favorite food? Do you enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate? Reconnecting with things that brought joy to your life in the past may be one small way to nurture yourself.
If you find that you have tried to implement various forms of self-care and are not feeling a positive connection to any of them, it may be time to consider if you would benefit from the help of a therapist or a counselor. Sometimes the inability to find joy in any aspect of our day is a signal that we may need a little help from an outside professional.
Please remember that we at JCFS are here to help and support you. We offer individual and family counseling, weekly and monthly support groups, one-time educational and support programs, financial and vocational assistance and more. Call us at 855.275.5237 or visit our website.