This week’s topic on Fostering Wellness: Transforming Stress & Trauma Through Self-Care & Resilience by Dr. Heidi Kar led the class to think deeply about how to best take care of yourself to promote mental and emotional health and wellbeing. The lectures and skill development exercises provided a wealth of information and ideas on how to build your own action that best works for you. The action plan consists of five simple steps:
Step 1: Grounding, Centering, and Rejuvenating Daily Activities to Keep Your Mind Healthy
Step 2: Awareness of Warning Signs That Something Is Wrong
Step 3: Toolbox of Coping Skills
Step 4: Identifying Sources of Social Support
Step 5: Professional Support
A sample plan can consist of daily activities such as grounding, mindfulness meditation (e.g. leaves on a stream exercise) and being in nature. Warning signs can be thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors that indicate your mind is not in the healthiest place. You may be ‘over-worrying’ or finding it difficult to unwind and relax at night. The next step in an action plan consists of creating your personalized toolbox of coping skills you can rely on to either take your mind off of negative thoughts and feelings or help you perceive and approach a situation differently. These can include evidence-based stress reduction techniques focusing on the present moment (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation to release physical tension and help you get out of your mind and into your body), physical exercise or challenging your thoughts and thinking of alternatives and new perspectives, among many others.
If you still feel stuck after using your coping strategies, you might need to reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, to get support. Finally, if you cannot get the help you need from that trusted person, you might need professional support that is available to you, such as a counselor or therapist.
We learned that developing and implementing your personalized action plan can not only help us become more resilient when going through difficult times, but also increase our overall sense of wellbeing through daily self-care practices.
As Rotary Peace Fellows, it is essential to be attentive to our own mental and emotional health hardships as well as to the wellbeing of those we work with and serve, since we can often witness or respond to situations of conflict. Having these practical tools we learned this week to deploy when needed is of great benefit to us so we can better understand and be better equipped to help the communities we serve.
Laura Viana – Argentina
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 31Read More