A Practical Self-Care Strategy for the In-Between Moments
November 19, 2020
This guest post was written by Cassandra Scicluna. Cassandra Scicluna is a Counselling Psychologist based in the leafy pockets of Melbourne’s North-East. Cassandra works across various settings, sharing her knowledge and support in various ways, through therapy, online education, podcasting and writing. Cassandra provides a safe and calm space for her clients, facilitating them to share their story and to take an active part in writing it. This year, Cassandra started a new chapter as business owner of “Cassandra Scicluna, Psychologist”. In this most challenging year, she has provided warm and compassionate counselling to others, helping them to deal with their thoughts and fears, regulate their emotions and find clever and creative ways to meet their own needs. You can find her on Facebook here or Instagram here.
This year, I learnt that self-care is more than just checking off items on a list.While virtual Monday morning yoga (check!) and Sunday afternoon walks within a 5km radius (check!) were important parts of my weekly self-care routine, I wondered: what about all the moments I need to be taking care of myself in-between?
I realised that becoming aware of how I am feeling and responding moment to moment as I need it, can make the difference between just managing my mental health and actually improving it.
There are two parts to this strategy: becoming aware of how you’re feeling and responding in order to feel better.
To become aware, let’s start with a check-in using a simple tool such as a scale to rate how you are feeling.In this moment, ask yourself “how am I feeling on a scale of 0 – 10?” With 0 being absolute calm and 10 being the most stress you’ve ever experienced.
Note: If you find the use of numbers difficult, use low, medium, high.
If you rated 3 or above, it’s essential to bring that number down, so that when you experience something stressful throughout the day, you are pushed slightly up the scale rather than going straight to number 10.
Here are some quick and powerful ways to respond to bring that number down:
Get into a comfortable position (because chances are, you’re not in one!) Consider “how would I be, if I were watching TV?” and then adjust yourself.
Scan your body for any tension, from the top of your head down to your toes.If you feel any tightness, stretch out and relax those muscles.
Shift your focus to your breath for the next minute, noticing your in-breath and your out-breath.If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath every time.
Now, check-in and ask yourself “where am I on the scale now?”
Remember, all skills take practise, so if you’re not feeling calmer, that’s okay—try going through the above steps again.
The more you practise this strategy, the better you will become at increasing your awareness and in turn, your ability to respond.
Eventually, you’ll be in-tune with how you’re feeling throughout your week and responding to feel better in all those precious moments in-between.