We have all heard that we need to take care of ourselves first, so our cup is full to be able to care for
others. It’s the same as when you are told by the flight attendant to put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others.
As a victim of domestic violence there is the chance that you have been prevented from practising any self-care. You may have been told:
self-care is selfish
reading a book is lazy
meditation is a waste of time
you cannot afford to go to the gym
there is no time for you to exercise.
The Blogging GEMS program invited survivors to practise a selection of evidence-based self-care strategies over the year including Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness Yoga, Support and Service. At the end of the year, each survivor was asked to reflect on which self-care strategies worked for them and to create their own self-care plan.
This is to help give them permission to include self-care into their lives and not feel guilty about it. Survivors must remember that self-care is not selfish. As Jessica Brubaker said in her TED talk... ‘You matter. Self-care is about not neglecting the relationship with yourself. Self-care isn't selfish.'- ‘ Why Self-care isn’t selfish’.
What’s in a plan
A self-care plan is holistic and helps you with your emotions, mind, body, spirit, and relationships.
The plan may or may not include the GEMS strategies. For a self-care plan to work it needs to be flexible.
You will need to work on:
identifying what you value and enjoy, as this will help make your plan sustainable
setting up boundaries to protect your self-care time.
Why is self-care important?
It is important to take time for ourselves. Self-care has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, boost self-esteem and help to keep us mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. This can improve your relationships with yourself and others around you.
Giving ourselves… permission to do nothing
As we discussed our plans, we began to realise that it is hard to make time for self-care. To feel valued we keep busy, productive, ticking off the lists. This busyness stops us from feeling. Not wanting to ‘feel’ is why many survivors may struggle when practising Mindfulness Yoga.
We also learned we need to give ourselves a break. Give ourselves some white space – permission to do nothing. White space is valuable. In the design industry, it provides harmony and balance and aids understanding and comprehension. Giving your life white space will allow you the space to be in harmony and balance with you.
The plan supports survivors with the tools to practise self-care. These tools will keep you moving forward on your journey of healing after domestic abuse.
Why create a plan? Because to move forward, to move away from being stuck in your story, there is no way around it, you need to do the work. Part of the work is putting yourself first and caring for yourself – creating your self-care plan, caring for you.
Self-care is not selfish
Blogging GEMS program
This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about it.you can read their survivor GEMS Blogs:
Mindfulness Meditation Blogs:
Running away from being still
The fertile ground of giving (coming soon)