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Self-care in the holiday season and beyond

When doing rape crisis work – or other crisis services –  one of the phrases you become very familiar with ‘self-care’.   We’re reminded on a daily, weekly, monthly basis that we should be doing regular forms of self-care for ourselves and recommending it to others –significant others, survivors, and fellow co-workers.  Whether providing counseling, advocacy, or trainings it can be tough to talk about and reflect upon sexual violence every single day.  Implementing regular forms of self-care can prevent us from burning-out and allows us to do the best job possible and provide services for those who request them.

Self-care is an important concept but can mean very different things depending on who is interpreting it. As simplistically as possible, self-care is about taking care of yourself mentally, and emotionally.  It can mean taking 5 minutes to do some deep breathing, a stroll around the block, setting aside time to read a good book or listen to music, indulging in some trashy tv, going for a run, or utilizing some vacation time.  The purpose being that afterwards you feel more refreshed and ready to undertake any challenges that may exist. 

Self-care is important for more than just those who are working in support and crisis services.  It is important for survivors as well as a means of healing.  The holidays can be a very triggering time for many survivors.  Perhaps they have to see people who remind them of the perpetrator or who weren’t supportive.  Perhaps it is around the holiday times when they were assaulted.  They could feel overwhelmed by the increased crowds at stores, restaurants, or transit areas.  Many survivors increase their self-care methods during times that are especially triggering and it’s important for those around them to support these decisions.  By being in tune with how they are feeling and the impact of any external stimuli, survivors are better able to gauge what they need to make it through the holidays and enjoy everything as much as possible. 

However, especially during the busy and hectic holiday season, everyone can benefit from a little self-care.  When it seems as if the lists for shopping, visiting, decorating, and cooking always seem to be getting a bit longer despite all the hours of work one has already done doing a bit of self-care can give us a fresh perspective or the energy to keep going. 

I think that this year especially it is important to keep a check on one’s mental and emotional health these next couple weeks.  The tragedy in CT impacted the whole nation regardless of whether you knew anyone directly impacted by the violence or not.  Each of us felt the fear, sadness, disbelief, and anger that resonated through the Newtown community.  Many of us went home to hug family members extra tight or perhaps made a few extra phone calls.  Taking a few minutes or hours to engage in some self-care can go a long way in being able to provide support to friends and family, renew ones faith in humanity and to see the good that still exists in this world.


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Posted by stacey

Stacey formerly served BARCC as the coordinator for Community Awareness and Outreach. Prior to BARCC, she worked for the Navy as a sexual assault response coordinator and volunteered for the DC Rape Crisis Center. She got involved with anti-rape work during college and has enjoyed doing both direct services and educational work.

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