When the going gets tough—when world-class change beckons, and you know you must rise up and meet the moment—what is essential?
How do you actually weather this crisis? And how do you hang in there for the long haul?
This might be a sudden loss of your job or your home, or a major change in your relationship. Or perhaps a pandemic or a massive civil rights movement comes to your door.
How do you do what you’ve got to do, and still keep body and soul together?
Such times are rich with opportunity, but only if you play them right. And yet, so few of us are prepared to actually do that. What many know how to do in a crisis is to react. Perhaps that means freezing or leaping into untethered action. Or sending text after text to anyone who will listen, all of them in caps.
Or maybe we just have a very public freak out on social media.
Ah, but friend, here is where the learning curve is.
This is exactly when you need to take a pause and crank up the self-care. If this seems counter-intuitive, bear with me for a moment.
You’ll know you need to do this if you feel your energy flagging, or you’re unable to sleep or even concentrate. Maybe you’re obsessively worrying, or constantly checking the news.
You may feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Especially if world events or events in your own life seem to be spiraling out of control.
And most especially if you feel unsafe.
This is when a lesson is truly at hand, friend. Which is precisely why your body is talking to you.
Instead of reacting, I suggest you get grounded. For within that grounding, you’re going to actually find your marching orders. And they will be spot on.
Here is where you will gather your power.
This is a roadmap you might follow.
Extreme Situations Call for Extreme Self-Care: 6 Action Steps for Getting It
#1. Stop and get clear.
Instead of racing off in the first direction you can think of, I suggest carving out some intentional alone time. Use it to find out just what is going on. What are your body, your heart, and your soul trying to tell you?
Give yourself enough time, whether it be an hour or a day or even a week, to find out what you need. This will be especially true if you have a big decision to make. For some marchers in recent Black Lives Matter protests, they simply quit their jobs and went out there and marched. They knew, deep in their gut, they had to do this. So there was real conviction.
If you’re not clear yet on what to do first, take the time to find out. Pull out a journal and let your thoughts fly. Or if you’re inclined to meditate, go have a good long sit. Take a walk in nature and see if inspiration comes to you while you’re moving. If you’re stressed out, take off your shoes and stand barefoot on the ground. Let yourself feel just how stable and solid the earth is beneath you.
If you still feel muddled, you might even talk to a supportive friend.
One way or another, make time to check in with yourself and spill what’s in your heart. Then listen attentively.
#2. Stay focused on you.
The temptation, of course, is to obsess on the other guy and spin your wheels, especially if you feel wronged. Yet, ultimately this is a waste of time. What is your plan of action? What are your needs? What has to happen before you can move forward?
Keep checking in with yourself as time goes by. This is not a ‘one and done’ experience. The process of self-awareness is always growing and shifting, just as our needs are.
By staying focused on yourself, you intuit each next step and marshal your resources. And you feed your mojo.
#3. Get organized.
Though it may be tempting to dive into what’s happening right now, think out your long-term strategy for the coming weeks and months. Ask yourself what you will need as you move forward.
What can you let go of that will help you live lean, and operate unencumbered? What do you need to add that will boost your energy and your resolve? What will best support you and the plan you are making?
This is not a place for wheel-spinning, but quiet determination. If you want to move out of a hopeless relationship, plot your exit. If you know you need to find a new job, review the status of your resume. Does it need a makeover? Or would a networking group be more beneficial?
#4. Ask for support.
What do you need right now … and can you attain that by yourself? If not, there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, there is power in including others—especially if their skill set in a particular area is better than our own.
This is just being strategic. And yes, asking for support if it's a MAJOR piece of great self-care. If you’re not clear on who to ask, or where to find help, head back to number 1. You’ll get that inspiration if you tune in and listen for a while.
You just have to slow down enough to get clear.
#5. Take conscious action.
Whether it’s filing for a divorce, asking for a raise, or starting a movement, your job is simply to listen to your gut. Then take each step required, knowing you have your feet on the ground and you know what to do. If it feels right, do it.
This is a conscious action, and it’s marked by a wonderful, grounded sense of ease, calm. You know down deep you’re doing the right thing. And that you’re just where you need to be.
This is how we can make a difference in the world, thanks to the healing power of self-care.
Your time is now.
Suzanne Falter is a writer, podcaster, and speaker whose work has appeared in SELF, O, More, Fitness, New Woman, and The New York Times.
She is the author of multiple self-help titles including The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care (Sourcebooks). Suzanne also hosts the ever-popular Self-Care for Extremely Busy Women podcast and regularly speaks to a global audience on the healing power of crisis and the importance of self-care. She does so both virtually and on stage when it's safe to do so.