Stay connected, discern well and compartmentalize
International Self-Care Day is a global initiative to promote self-care for one’s self and, in effect, one's community. The annual event highlights the importance of integrating a healthy lifestyle and holistic well-being in our day to day, especially during a global health crisis. Being intentional with our mental health and taking the time to discern what we let in our system is more than just vanity or, as others suggest, self-centeredness. It isn't some elaborate form of toxic positivity either.
Manage it in terms of taking care of yourself to develop resilience, which goes beyond our current plight. To highlight these points, we have public health expert Dr. Marthony Basco and International Coach Federation-certified professional coach Vanee Gosiengfiao of Sanofi Philippines to lead a conversation on how to lighten our mental and physical load during these trying times.
Self-care isn't selfish
“A common misconception about health is that we need to take care of ourselves only when we get sick. What self-care really teaches us is that it’s important to prevent sickness in the first place, and this helps ease the burden on everybody later on,” shares Gosiengfiao. Simply put, preventive self-management in terms of health and well-being benefits us in the long run.
She adds, “This [pandemic] may be the biggest crisis we go through as a community, but it won’t be our last. So, we’ll need the same skills of focusing on what we can control, compartmentalizing our work from our personal life and finding a community to provide us support.“
For health professionals, it's even more important to practice self-care given these tumultuous times. Dr. Basco suggests to communicate your experiences, vent even, especially when it gets too heavy to carry on your own. Unload your worries to a trusted friend or a small group. Have enough rest; the number of hours you sleep at night needs to be divisible by two. Take your vitamins, eat healthy and get vaccinated to prevent diseases—as with everyone else.
Research suggests that life expectancy has increased over the years. We are definitely more productive, especially when our culture glorifies it (to a fault). We’re living longer and we’re exposed to more things—stress, information—which determines our productivity for the years to come. It's important to manage our energy and learn how to expend it well, otherwise, it will evidently lead to burnout.
Compartmentalize, even if it's only separating your workspace from your area for rest and play. Having this differentiation makes a load of difference. Having a variety in your day to day also helps.
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We also need to be more discerning with the information we consume. Whether it's a chain message from your family Viber group to “credible” infographics on Facebook, social media is deceiving, to say the least. Verify to make better decisions.
Don't waste this time
All this free time we have on our hands shouldn't be wasted. Whether it's learning a new skill or spending more time with our families, we have the means and resources—albeit not for everybody—to find “good” in this tragedy. Dr. Basco shares, “Physical constraints shouldn’t limit our mental abilities. [We need to] get out of our comfort zones since our minds and our hearts can always go outside.”
Stay connected with people who understand, be observant of your physical and mental states, and lastly, have a discerning attitude towards these challenges. And if it weren't said before, it's okay to admit that you're not okay. We're all just trying to get by, one day at a time.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver