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Asian woman in Saint Paul, Minnesota
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Self-Care is a Critical Investment in Ourselves to Support the People and the Causes that Matter to Us

3/16/21 by Pahoua Yang
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It has been exactly a year since my family and I returned from a short trip to celebrate the end of spring break. My children never returned physically to school. The next day, I sat with our Community Mental Health and Wellness leadership team, socially distanced in the Wilder Center auditorium, and made the difficult decision to go to mostly telehealth services for the over 2,000 people and families we serve, and to send our team of over 180 people home. 

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We never imagined the life that we’ve all lived this past year.

It has been a year filled with examples of the very worst kinds of tragedies. A collective sense of grief and loss has settled over our country, and yet during this past year, we have also witnessed moments of the very best of humankind – glimmers of hope that remind us we can get through this moment in time. As a mom, and because of my profession, I have often been asked in the past year what I’m doing to take care of my family, my friends, neighbors, community. This is my response: I am making room in my life to take care of myself.

In a year like this last one, we have to be especially deliberate about taking care of ourselves.

There is a reason on a plane, you’re supposed to put the mask on yourself first before others. While “self-care” can feel indulgent, especially during these times, it’s a critical investment in ourselves so that we can be in this for the long haul – so that we can be there for loved ones, for important causes, for all of the things that matter in our lives, in our world. It’s important to:

  • Recognize and acknowledge our own emotions about this moment in time – all of the highs, lows and in-betweens.
  • Continue our connections with friends and loved ones, even though they may currently look differently. 
  • Get enough sleep, eat well, and keep our bodies moving. 
  • Have time to ourselves and time with others. 
  • Continue to cultivate opportunities to do the things that have meaning for ourselves.

While one thing by itself doesn’t fix everything, doing many of these things regularly helps guard our bodies, our souls, our hearts, and our minds for the things that matter. The things that matter to me are my family, my friends, my neighbors, and our community. This is where I choose to place all of my good thoughts, all of my hopes, all of my effort – but I can only do that if I show up at my best. That’s why in this year when self-care can feel indulgent, it is the ultimate tool we have if we want to support the things that are good about our society and change the things that have hurt us as a people. 

...when self-care can feel indulgent, it is the ultimate tool we have if we want to support the things that are good about our society and change the things that have hurt us as a people.

Pahoua K. Yang, VP of Community Mental Health & Wellness