Insights from the Hotline Room: Self-Care in the New Year
The first month of 2017 is coming to a close, and folks around the country are checking on their new year’s resolutions. The new year can be a good time to commit to self-improvement goals, but it’s important to be gentle with yourself and your expectations. Enter in: self-care.
Self-care is a resolution that support specialists on the National Sexual Assault Hotline recommend all year round. Self-care can mean different things for different people—this is especially true of survivors of seuxal violence who are in different stages of recovering from the experience.
“We talk to a lot of survivors who may feel overwhelmed or not in control of their emotions or actions. We understand this can be an unsettling feeling for many survivors. Self-care activities can help survivors start to implement actions into their daily lives that allow them to feel mentally and physically healthier,” explained Catherine DuBois, interim operations manager for RAINN’s hotline services. “It’s definitely specific to each person and what makes them feel happy and healthy. Some people feel grounded by doing arts and crafts or writing, while others find that same comfort in exercise or spending time with people they trust."
RAINN’s support specialists took some time to share their recommendations for survivors who are seeking to practice self-care.
- “I offer journaling as an exercise for some survivors who want to work through what happened, but are afraid to be judged or not ready to talk out loud.”
- “Free writing is a great exercise. You can set a time constraint of 10 to 15 minutes, and just let yourself write. Don’t overthink it, and just see what comes up.”
- “Some people find walking and forms of exercise help. It can be low key, like taking a walk around block, or more exertion, like going for a long run.”
- “I’ll ask a survivor what works for them first. For example, I might ask what type of music puts them in a happy mood, or if there’s a show that always makes them laugh. Then I suggest they do those things for a little while, kind of like distracting yourself.”
- “Take a warm bath or a shower.”
- “I talk about having a plan and knowing what works for you, especially if the survivor knows they’re going to encounter a stressful situation. For example, some survivors feel drained after going to therapy or disclosing to a new person. Having a self-care plan to come back to may help less anxious and more grounded.”
- “Call a loved one—someone you can trust and feel calm talking to. You don’t even have to talk [about sexual violence], you can just have a casual conversation to distract from negative thoughts.”
- “If someone is having a flashback, I suggest wrapping themselves in a blanket to feel secure and more comfortable.”
- “Many people have a creative outlet—and they’re all so different. Some folks like to craft, make jewelry, or color in a coloring book. If there’s something that works for you, make the time to return to that creative outlet.”
- “Youtube has guided meditations that can be really helpful. Sometimes it’s hard to guide yourself through a meditation. It can be comforting to hear someone tell you when to breathe in and when to breath out.”
To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.