Self-Care for the Sexual Assault Survivor
What’s the first thing you picture when you hear the words “self-care?” Is it a luxury spa day complete with fluffy white bathrobes and rose petals? Maybe it’s something a little less extravagant and includes an at home facial while eating chocolates and reading an enthralling book. Whatever the case, self-care means so much more and is surprisingly much more attainable than what most of our first impressions might suggest.
Self-care refers to the idea of treating your mind and body with nurturing respect. When you learn to take care of your own needs first you will be better equipped to take care of life’s other responsibilities. Practicing self-care essentially follows the same reasoning behind the instruction to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others around you while on an airplane. If you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re suddenly of absolutely no use to anyone else around you. Similarly, if you’re not taking care of yourself first, how can you expect to see to anyone or anything else in an efficient manner? The truth is that you owe it to yourself to practice self-care.
So what is self-care exactly? What if I can’t afford a luxury spa day? Then what? That’s ok! Self-care is about doing what you need to do to alleviate stress and keep your body healthy. For some that might include a hot bath or spa visit. For others self-care means a walk around the block or an intensive session kicking heavy bags at the gym. Keeping a positivity journal or diving head first into creative, artistic projects might be a way that you practice self-care. In addition to practicing stress relieving activities, it is important to keep your body healthy. Eating healthy foods, getting an appropriate amount of sleep every night, and exercising your body are all important aspects of self-care. Bottom line, Self-care does not need to be expensive or particularly time consuming for it to be effective. Self-care should be different for each person because each person has different needs.
Self-care is an important practice for any person to uphold but is possibly even more essential for survivors of sexual violence as they work on healing. If you are a survivor or sexual violence know that you should never feel guilty about making your healing a primary concern. By practicing self-care as part of your healing journey, you are preparing yourself to be able to give the best you to the world. By practicing self-care you are putting your oxygen mask on yourself so that you are able to take care of other responsibilities.