Being Mindful of Self-Care

Corrie Rhyasen Erdman, Community Learning Network

4 9 7 April 2020

Hand Heart

It seems common these days to include a reference to the pandemic at the beginning of any conversation we have whether it be by phone email, text, messaging, video... An effort to acknowledge its pervasive presence and deepening impact in our lives and our world. Really what we are trying to say is “How are you?” and really want to hear the truth in the answer. It’s one way we care for each other in a time of crisis.

Since you and I are connecting right now, let me ask you, “How are you?”

I really mean it. How are you doing? How are you feeling? Right now at this moment. Take a moment to reflect on this question and pay attention to what surfaces.

This is an important question to ask ourselves in a time of crisis, especially those who care for and support other people. CALP staff, boards, volunteers and instructors are these people. It may not seem like our first instinct but taking care of ourselves is important when there are changing demands, stresses, and uncertainties in our own lives while, at the same time, we are caring for other people. Having awareness of our own state of being is one of the first steps of self-care.

Here’s a short and cute video that explains this as mindfulness. Why Mindfulness is a Superpower?

Many of you have participated in the Red Cross’ Psychological First Aid training this year and now have the skills and knowledge to provide psychological first aid to yourself and to others. This training spends one whole day on learning what it means to care for ourselves because it recognizes the importance of preparing ourselves to care for others.

One of the key teachings of this training is the Look, Listen, Link, Live strategy. It’s an easy way to remember to check in to see what we or someone else is needing.

Look: Look for the common signs that indicate stress. How does stress show up for you? (e.g., physically: headache, tiredness; mentally: difficulty focusing or remembering; emotionally: anxiety…)

Listen: How are you feeling? What is the story that these signs of stress are telling you? (e.g., Are you tired because you are not sleeping? Do you feel increasingly irritated by other people? Are you feeling cynical, critical or disengaged?)

Link: What do you do and where do you go to get help when you are struggling? What are the support systems you have in place (eg. do you meditate, pray, run, listen to music; do you have family and friends you go to that make you feel supported; are there groups you belong to such as a book club, or faith communities; do you have a therapist, spiritual leader, or mentor you trust)

Live: What are the ongoing strategies and practices you use to support your own well being? (e.g., taking breaks, have realistic work expectations, get enough sleep, eat well and exercise, stress management techniques – breathing, mindfulness, prayer, and asking for help if you need it)

Taking time to care for ourselves is an act of love and compassion, not only for us, but for those we are holding space for in this time of massive change. Heather Plett, the developer of the "Holding Safer Spaces" training, explains that when we hold space for people in times of transition or change “it is one of the most sacred acts we can do for each other. When we do it, we are standing on holy ground. We can’t do this unless we are well grounded and supported.” What Heather is saying is that we can’t really be good for other people if we aren’t in a good place ourselves.

We can do this together but we each need to make sure we are preparing ourselves to care for others. And recognizing when we need to step back. Take time to check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you are doing. Try the Look, Listen, Link, Live model and learn more through one of the Red Cross’s online Psychological First Aid modules.

Red Cross’s Online Psychological First Aid modules

Self-Care Module: Understanding the effects of stress, loss and grief using the Red Cross Look, Listen, Link, Live model.($15)
Caring for Others Module: Understanding the effects of stress, loss and grief on others using the Red Cross Look, Listen, Link, Live model. ($15)

Corrie Rhyasen Erdman
CLN Training Manager


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