Well to be fair, it’s the model I didn’t know I needed. It has been a challenging few years, the pandemic combined with additional stressors and some family pain, I needed to find a way to really take care of myself.
I noticed that in the Veterans community, we do a lot of education around stress, trauma and how the nervous system needs care and support to do the real work of healing. I noticed that these concepts and support were not present in many self care models (like The Self-Care Matrix-A unifying framework for self-care (El-Osta, Webber et. al. 2019) or Seven Pillars of Self-Care (Webber & Mann, 2013). Great comprehensive models that include physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and more.
The nervous system work I am referring to is to help you have difficult conversations, be present in moments when your fight/flight/freeze human reaction kicks in. It allows you to be more aware of the emotions rising and not let them take over. Now who wouldn’t want that?
I guess I was also hoping for something more practical, more actionable. Something I could see progress on or when I am taking a step back on self care and be ok with it. Something I could share with others that I am doing ok, or the best I can do in this moment and be ok with it. Something others can share with me as a real lens of how they are doing and that we can talk about it. The mental health continuum or the mental health thermometer (green/yellow/orange/red) is a good indicator, but what is the next step?
The next step I call The Stack (or Self Care Stack). A conversation I am hoping to open up to create fresh pathways on the topic of self care that we have been leaning into to solve mental health challenges. The Broadmind team and other wonderful people and professionals have given feedback to create the Self Care STACK. The infographic included here, helps to describe it but some context needs further description.
The premise of The STACK is that taking care of our bodies is a foundational element to taking care of ourselves: rest/sleep, movement and nutrition – I know we know, but maybe it helps to frame it in those simple terms. The other layers require attention, or some charge as in a battery needs some charge to work.
The Nervous System Care is the awareness and regulation we need right now. How do I have difficult conversations and remain present and calm? We can learn skills and knowledge to help us do that.
The emotional piece is an ongoing practice and awareness of how we are feeling and how it affects the rest of The STACK. For example, one lovely human shared that when he really, really likes someone he is so excited that he feels he can do anything including calm himself down when needed and take care of his body. Up and down the STACK we go, but at the very least or when in doubt, we start with our body.
Notice the side of The STACK has the people we interact with, we need social connections. These social connections: family, friends, colleagues or community members are better at supporting our STACK when they are ‘STACKING’ well themselves, this helps us all. I hope this makes sense.
Please reach out with your thoughts (email@example.com). I am proud to say that Broadmind is using these concepts to inform the ongoing education and support we provide for workplaces with 1 hour sessions in sleep, movement and nutrition (Body Care). We have sessions in trauma, stress, burnout and more coming (Nervous System Care) and emotional sessions that start with empathy, awareness of emotions, regulation and more coming (Emotional and Behavioural Care). The social support side of the STACK includes our popular and helpful Mental Health First Aid and booster sessions to keep you on a path of good mental wellbeing.
Please reach out and we can get you and your workplace, team or group better STACKED to handle the stressors and challenges we are facing in this life thing. Please also reach out if you are a practitioner who wants to help us help our fellow humans (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am glad you were here. Hope you are STACKING well.
You can also reach out to me directly at email@example.com