Welcome to part three of our self-care series, looking at how to look after yourself when headlines, posts and discussions about sexual assault and abuse can all get a bit much.
Last October, #metoo hit our feeds and since then sexual assault has dominated news cycles, social media and national conversations. The movements to increase awareness about sexual assault are powerful acts of solidarity for all survivors. Whether you choose to share your stories or not – you are brave. For survivors, however, the prevalence of sexual assault can be triggering and distressing and carrying these feelings can be overwhelming. It’s okay if you feel like this. You’re not alone in struggling, and we recognise it may be a difficult time for you.
It’s okay to give yourself space.
News cycles are difficult to avoid when it permeates so much of our daily lives: tv, social media, online media. It may be beneficial to check how you feel before, during and after reading or watching the news. If you find it’s affecting your emotional wellbeing or it’s overwhelming, it can be helpful to minimise the time you spend absorbing media. Set limits of how long you spend reading or watching the news; perhaps setting thirty minutes during your lunch or after work, and then turning it off for the rest of the day.
If you find yourself getting a bit weighed down by all the posts on your social media feed, most major platforms have developed ways to personalise your feed and block out things that you might not want to see.
For how to mute hashtags and keywords on Twitter, click here.
For how to snooze keywords on Facebook, click here.
Identify people you trust. Surround yourself with those who support you; reaching out and spending time with loved ones is a positive way to cope if you’re feeling distressed. If you can and you want to, talk to them about how you’re feeling. If not but you still need someone to talk to, you can call various hotlines for sexual assault survivors and mental health. Here are just some out there:
Safeline Male Survivors Helpline: 0808 800 5008 - Opening times vary
It’s your choice if, when and what you want to share.
With the movement taking place on social media, many women and men have come forward to share their stories. You may feel under pressure to share your story in public, or online in anyway, but it’s not the right choice for everybody. Remember that you do not owe anyone your story. It’s okay to choose not to share, for whatever reason; you don’t want to, it’s too difficult or you aren’t ready. Don’t feel guilty for prioritising your wellbeing, your healing and your needs. You and your wellbeing are important.
Take care of yourself.
Looking after yourself is a fundamental part of self-care, but it’s especially needed if you feel upset or distressed. It’s easy to lose track of our routines but they can do so much for our emotions. Carve out time to look after your wellbeing. Sleep may be difficult but try to maintain regular sleeping habits and get enough sleep. Try to eat regular, balanced meals and stay hydrated. Give yourself time to exercise and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness could be using meditation apps on your phone, yoga, listening to music or breathing exercises. In a moment of distress, grounding exercises can ease feelings of being overwhelmed.
Think about the things you that make you feel better and turn to them when you need too. Taking a break and engage with something that makes you feel better: walking, playing with your pets, meditating, reading (or whatever you choose!) You deserve to do things that make you feel more comfortable and happier, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Be kind to yourself.
It’s a difficult and challenging time. Using positive self-talk to cope can help when you’re upset. For example, you can acknowledge how you’re feeling and add positivity to it, “I am upset. I can make myself feel a little better by having a cup or tea/by calling a friend/going for a walk”. Forgive yourself if you feel like you’re not coping; it’s okay.
If you aren’t able or can’t do some or any of these things when distressed, remember there’s no 'one size fits all' for healing. Wherever you are in your recovery and healing is incredible, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Whatever you feel able to or interested in, remind yourself you are brave and deserve kindness and comfort.