It is essential for each of us to focus on our wellness – physical and mental. Self-care affects our ability to navigate our world, while helping us develop and strengthen our resilience, or our ability to overcome obstacles.
In this Q&A, we receive advice from Bailey Pyle, the Licensed Mental Health Provider for Burrell’s Be Well Initiatives. Pyle has more than 11 years of experience in the mental health field working with children, adolescents, and their families in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, outpatient treatment and, now, in the Be Well Community.
Q: First of all, what is self-care and why do we need it?
A: Most of us are familiar with the necessary tasks of taking care of our physical health such as regular exercise, adequate sleep and eating healthy foods. These are important aspects of self-care, but our brains deserve to be cared for in the same ways we care for other parts of ourselves. Self-care is any healthy practice that you enjoy doing. For example, walking in nature, baking, reading, dancing, etc. Self-care is actually one of the most selfless things we can all do, as it supports our brain health. When we practice self-care on purpose, we are preparing ourselves to show up in our lives as the best partners, employees, parents, colleagues and family members we can be.
Q: How do I start self-care?
A: Beginning our own personal self-care practice can seem overwhelming to some of us. Start by considering these questions: What healthy practices, activities and habits are you currently doing that help you feel better? What makes you feel more like the person you want to be? To develop your own wellness plan, recognize the self-care strategies you are already using that are helpful and notice when they are helpful to you. For example, taking deep breaths may be very helpful when you’re experiencing low-level distress, but for higher levels of anxiety, it may be beneficial to couple breathing with additional strategies. You could try going for a walk, reaching out to a close friend or family member or engage in a mindfulness exercise.
Q: How often should I practice self-care?
A: We should all practice self-care every single day. The more we care for ourselves and our brain health during our day-to-day routines, the easier it becomes to use those strategies when we face challenges and the more resilient we become. Start with something you enjoy or know works to keep you calm and relaxed during times of stress. Then set a goal to practice that activity regularly so your brain gets into the habit. It is called a practice for a reason – it may not come easy right away and you may have to work at it. As long as you’re trying, you are taking care of your brain – and believe me, you deserve to take care of yourself.
Starting a self-care and wellness plan can be intimidating, but no one has to do it alone. We can all learn more about the benefits of self-care in real time through Burrell’s Be Well Community, a virtual network of community members and mental health professionals. Through weekly Facebook Live segments, the Be Well Community discusses what’s happening in the world and practices mindfulness in connection with others. The Be Well Community brings brain science to life to help us all experience hope and healing. For more information, go to www.bewellcommunity.org.