Catholic Health Association of Manitoba

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Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.

In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life

Where do you start? Well, there are three golden rules:

  • Stick to the basics. Over time you will find your own rhythm and routine. You will be able to implement more and identify more particular forms of self-care that work for you.
  • Self-care needs to be something you actively plan, rather than something that just happens. It is an active choice and you must treat it as such. Add certain activities to your calendar, announce your plans to others in order to increase your commitment, and actively look for opportunities to practice self-care.
  • Keeping a conscious mind is what counts. In other words if you don’t see something as self-care or don’t do something in order to take care of yourself, it won’t work as such. Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.

Although self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist that can be followed by all of us:

  • Create a “no” list, with things you know you don’t like or you no longer want to do. Examples might include: Not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during lunch/dinner.
  • Promote a nutritious, healthy diet.
  • Get enough sleep. Adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise. In contrast to what many people think, exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. In line with the self-care conditions, what’s important is that you choose a form of exercise that you like!
  • Follow-up with medical care. It is not unusual to put off checkups or visits to the doctor.
  • Use relaxation exercises and/or practice meditation. You can do these exercises at any time of the day.
  • Spend enough time with your loved ones.
  • Do at least one relaxing activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding.
  • Do at least one pleasurable activity every day; from going to the cinema, to cooking or meeting with friends.
  • Look for opportunities to laugh!

 

DEFINITIONS

Moral distress can be defined as the suffering experienced as a result of situations in which individuals are aware of a moral problem, acknowledge moral responsibility, and make a moral judgment about the correct action to take, yet due to constraints (real or perceived) cannot carry out this action, thus believing that they are committing a moral offence by compromising their personal values. The suffering may present as feelings of anger, frustration, guilt and/or powerlessness associated with a decreased sense of well-being.

Moral uncertainty occurs when one does not know which moral principles apply or cannot articulate what the moral problem is in a given situation.

Moral dilemmas arise when two or more moral principles or other moral standards apply to a morally problematic situation, but these are at odds with one another regarding which course of action each would support.

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of com-passion feels like.
First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is.
 
Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly.

Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. “There but for fortune go I.”

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.

 

Here are some reliable resources to find online trainings that have previously been offered though the Compassion Project in person. Réseau Compassion Network is pleased to be able to provide opportunities for the training to continue in a way that allows you to participate at a time that is best suited to you and often in alternative languages.

If you have questions, please contact compassion@compasionaction.ca.

Current offerings and Resources:  Education and Training Resources

Retreat Centres 

St. Charles Retreat Center in Winnipeg - click here

Light of the Prairies Retreat Centre in Lorette - click here

St. Benedict's Retreat Centre in West St. Paul - click here