StarVista’s Guide to Self-Care
As an agency delivering counseling, skill development, and crisis prevention services to children, youth, adults, and families, we strive to help folks learn the skills they need to succeed in their goals. Teaching self-care techniques is a big part of that work.
Whether at work, at home, or in our communities, we all give our time and energy to work, family, friends, or projects each and every day. Sometimes these activities are relaxing, rewarding, or fulfilling, but sometimes we do things we don’t really want to, or that diminish rather than elevate our energies. New stresses and concerns always seem to be popping up and can take our attention away from our own well-being.
This is where self-care comes in!
What is self-care?
Deliberate, regular activities that help to promote and maintain mental, emotional, and physical health.
What does self-care look like?
According to Vero Polanco, Youth Outreach Coordinator at StarVista’s Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Center (the Crisis Center), self-care is “as unique as the person doing it! But most importantly, it’s not about self-indulgence and doesn’t need to be expensive. Ideally, self-care is something you WANT to do that’s free or low-cost, non-invasive, and not a hassle—it’s something you can do anywhere!”
During Mental Health Awareness Month, staff from the Crisis Center hosted two community events focused on ways to improve well-being through self-care. “We had about 40 people of all ages come to learn about good stress versus bad stress, and we had folks do some self-care activities like coloring and note writing, which they really enjoyed” Vero said. Attendees also completed a self-care assessment, which, “was really eye-opening for some people—they didn’t realize how little they were doing for themselves.”
Next year, staff hope to continue educating the community about self-care, and its importance for coping with the regular stresses of life.
Chances are you already engage in all sorts of self-care throughout the day, even if you don’t know it; maybe you take walks, eat healthy snacks, play games, or chat with friends. However, problems arise when we forget that these seemingly trivial activities are essential for well-being.
Recent Gallup data suggests that 67% of full-time workers experience burnout some or all of the time, often resulting from an overwhelming workload . Those working in the mental health field can experience additional challenges stemming from emotional fatigue as they work to help folks through difficult times .
The consequences of not engaging in self-care can include:
- Low energy
- Feeling hopeless
- Less patience
- Increased headaches, stomach aches, and other physical symptoms of stress
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Challenges in choosing healthy food and urges to eat “comfort” foods
- Worsening mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety
- Feeling “burnout”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Strain or distancing in the relationship with your spouse or partner
- Less patience with your children
- Reduced performance at work
- Less motivation to engage in social activities 
Given all the ways that stress affects the mind and body, it’s clear how important it is to engage in self-care as part of our regular daily life.
In what ways do you take care of yourself?
Even for mental health professionals, like many of the staff at StarVista, this can be a tough question to answer. Luckily, we’ve collected some tools to help you assess the ways you engage in self-care, and that offer ideas for your daily routine:
This assessment asks you to identify the types and frequency of self-care activities that you already engage in, and may point out some areas that could use more attention.
Try this method of calming your stress response for immediate and long-term benefits.
Learn how to use a labyrinth—a winding one-way path leading walkers into and back out of a central space—that offers a body meditation that mirrors the inner journey of personal reflection.
See what the folks at Good Therapy have come up with to help enhance your self-care strategy.
No matter your job, these self-care tips for the work day can help improve your mood.
We at StarVista wish you well on your self-care journey and want you to remember two things: keep it simple and be good to yourself!
July 24th is International Self-Care Day!
The International Self-Care Foundation (ISF) is a UK-based charity with a global focus. A champion that sees self-care as an integral part of people’s lives, ISF is striving to make self-care a more integral part of family, community, organizational, and social life.
Check out their website to learn more about self-care!