Written by: Marta Wilimowski, Addictions, and Mental Health Graduate Certificate Program (C), The Gatehouse Practicum Student
Selfcare is a term that comes up quite often in the field of mental health. It is a process of taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Selfcare is essential for anyone, particularly for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This is because it helps with coping the thoughts and feelings following the event, regardless of how long after. Selfcare can help to address concerns regarding flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety or sleeping problems (Rape Crisis England & Wales, 2021).
The beauty of selfcare is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is subjective, meaning it will look different for each individual. In a general sense, selfcare is anything that will make you feel better, safer, and happier. No activity is too small for selfcare. It can be as simple as going for a walk or taking a drink of water. If you prefer to challenge yourself, you can participate in activities that require more time and effort. This can include decluttering a closet, going on a 5k run or learning how to cook a new dish. Regardless of your selfcare is, it is important to remember to treat yourself with love, kindness, and compassion (Rape Crisis England & Wales, 2021).
It can be challenging to find time for selfcare, especially if you are overwhelmed with a busy schedule. To add to this, changing up your routine takes time. For survivors, there may be a couple of different reasons why selfcare may be challenging. For one, the survivor may be experiencing feelings of shame or even blaming themselves for what happened (Rape Crisis England & Wales, 2021). These feelings can lead the individual to believe that they are not deserving of selfcare. If and when you feel these emotions, it is important to remember that you are not to blame. You are not at fault for what happened to you. Overcoming thoughts of self-blame is challenging, but it is not impossible. Be kind to yourself, challenge thoughts of self-blame by thinking about arguments again them and tell yourself, “It was not my fault” (Rape Crisis England & Wales, 2021).
Selfcare is a task that may be very difficult to make a part of your day. Some tips to remember is that you can start small and work your way up to bigger things. The important thing to remember is to work at a pace that you are comfortable with. Another tip to keep in mind is that self-care does not have to be a complicated thing. As was mentioned above, it can be as simple as going for a walk. Do not let yourself get into a mindset that selfcare has to be big. Selfcare is whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed.
If you are anything like me, you may have a hard time coming up with some selfcare activities. Below, you will find a couple of different activities for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being that you can use to inspire your personalized selfcare plan. Physical selfcare can include going on a hike, getting a massage, developing a regular sleep routine, or working out. Some selfcare activities for taking take of your mental self can include journaling, hanging out with your friends and family, saying affirmations, or creating long- and short-term goals for yourself. Lastly, some emotional selfcare activities include sharing love for yourself and others, having a dance party, celebrating your accomplishments, or giving someone a hug. I want to stress that these are not the only forms of selfcare, and if these ideas do not work for you, that is okay. Selfcare means something entirely different for each individual. Focus on yourself and whatever it is that makes you feel happy.
Challenging thoughts of self-blame: Rape Crisis England & Wales. Challenging thoughts of self-blame | Rape Crisis England & Wales. (2021). https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/looking-for-tools-to-help-you-cope/blame-guilt/challenging-thoughts-of-self-blame/.
Self-care after rape or sexual violence. after rape or sexual violence | Rape Crisis England & Wales. (2021). https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/looking-for-tools-to-help-you-cope/self-care/what-is-self-care/.