Self-care during stressful and changing times

Whether we are healthcare professionals, human resources staff, advisors, faculty/academic staff, or executive leaders, we may throw the phrase “self-care” around and may not discuss or reflect enough on what it actually means or looks like for us on both a collective and personal level. As a mental health professional, I like to examine how self-care can be intentionally fostered in the various domains of life and I support people in finding their own personal ways to take care of their emotional, mental, physical, social and spiritual selves. I also like to look at how we collectively take care of each other whether it be friend to friend or employer to employee.  For example, I am always curious about how Navitas and the individual college I work for takes care of its employees and how it fosters growth, recognizes the value of diversity, and ensures both physical and psychological safety in the workplace.

Understanding what self-care really means

There are many myths surrounding self-care and I must admit I used to equate it with drinking a glass of wine and listening to soothing classical music while enjoying a bubble bath by candlelight! Now, don’t get me wrong – it is perfectly okay to pamper yourself in such a sensory experience if it makes you feel good!

Meaningful self-care is about an intentional and committed practice of self-compassion, engaging one’s strengths and creativity, being mindful, and making healthy choices. It is something that improves our mood, refuels us, enhances our resilience and reduces our stress.  I like to call it soul-filling!

– Nadina Dodd

And it doesn’t even have to be time-consuming at all. Self-care can also be transformational in the sense that it helps us make healthy changes in the way we think and behave, supports us to regulate our emotions, and reminds us to be kind and gentle to ourselves.Engaging our self-care is so important during times of crisis and uncertainty such as the current global pandemic, and the associated decisions from our public health officials and governments, that has disrupted our lives. I recognize that this disruption is different for everyone around the world as we are all in unique socioeconomic, cultural and political contexts. Even within our communities, people are experiencing it differently depending on the nature of their work, financial situation, physical health, psychological wellness, interpersonal relationships, living conditions, etc. Our global Navitas community is quite vulnerable considering that we rely on international mobility and that we support such diverse students from all over the world who have a unique set of circumstances. We are having to quickly do things we have never done before and we may feel like we are in survival mode. And, because change often results in loss, we may be going through stages of grief. We are also having to support others while we ourselves may be feeling anxious, stressed and worried.

This is undoubtedly a difficult time and, in order to support the learning and teaching community, I recently ran a webinar on self-care which also includes helpful tips on how to support others (that is, students, coworkers, family, friends and so on) – you can access the recording here or in the Navitas Community. I hope that you will gain some new insights by dedicating 45 minutes of your time to viewing it! Thank you and take good care!

Continue the conversation on the Navitas Community Discussion Forums (for Navitas staff) or email for more information.

[This story was produced in collaboration with Tania Lee]