Indulge in self-care

Self-care is the practice of protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particularly in times of stress. A virtual self-care workshop at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) aimed to give students the strategies and tools to do just that on Oct. 14. 

Hosted by Jessica Lopez, a master’s of social work student, from the Personal Growth and Counseling Center (PGCC), the event drew-in students looking to learn more about the self-care resources CSUMB has to offer. 

Self-care is not selfish, and it takes real conscious intentional effort. Most people have fallen into the trap of people-pleasing and putting others’ needs before their own. This can drain a person so much that there is nothing left for them to give to themselves, and they respond to our own daily stressors with something more immediate to soothe themselves. 

Lopez offered four tools that students can use regularly and continuously, and then asked participants, “What motivates us to practice self-care?”

  1. Physical self-care: Exercise is a great way to calm one’s minds and improve one’s focus and concentration. Some of the ideas given were yoga/pilates, weight training, running, bike riding, and above all, getting enough sleep. 
  2. Psychological/Emotional self-care: When students have a high amount of stress, they can become overwhelmed, and it helps to stop and be more mindful of their own needs. One of the things that might cause stress without students realizing it, is the instant gratification of social media. It can become addictive and instead of making students feel better afterwards, they sometimes feel worse. Students should make an active choice to disengage from it for a day or two and see how they feel afterwards. Do something creative like creating art, making music or writing. 
  3. Social self-care: Students should take care to surround themselves with positive, encouraging people. Going out to a party or event, again getting off of social media for a while and interacting with others can benefit a student’s mental health enormously. 
  4. Religious/Spiritual self-care: What do we value spiritually? What do we find purposeful? Religion encompasses many different lifestyles, and students can gain a lot from nurturing healthy relationships, volunteering, connecting with nature or engaging in practices that support environmental health. Students can also benefit from making time for personal reflection and reading inspirational literature. The Monterey Bay Zen Center is an active Zen community, which meditates, practices and gathers around the Monterey Peninsula. They are currently offering virtual classes throughout October. Students can find more information about this organization on their website, montereybayzencenter.org.

It has been almost two years since COVID-19 began. When people experience traumatic events like this, that no one could have planned for, it takes its toll. 

PGCC provides an online wellness source called [email protected] that anyone can use, as long as they have an Otter ID and password. It’s private and offers a diverse range of content with articles, links and videos catered to one’s specific needs. There are also ways to connect with other students, if one should want. Students can find more information at https://you.csumb.edu/home.

Lastly, Lopez encouraged students to engage in something that anyone can do:  breathing exercises. Students can take a moment to breathe in through their nose for a count of four, hold the breath for four counts and breathe out through their mouth for a count of four. Repeat this three or four times. This is a simple exercise to add to one’s daily routine and bring some peace during these hectic times. 
The next virtual self-care workshop is being held on Oct. 27 from 3 to 3:45 p.m. and Dec. 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. Visit the MyRaft web page at myrasft.csumb.edu for more information and to register.

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