This Is How a Trauma Expert Suggests Taking Care of Yourself Right Now

On Sundays, Sage Grazer, a psychotherapist and co-founder/CCO of Frame, a mental wellness network, tries to stay as chill as possible. Since her workdays are jam-packed with meetings and appointments, she says she usually spends her Sundays visiting her family. "I have a very tight-knit family and we are lucky to live close enough to safely practice physical distancing together," Grazer says.

But as a licensed therapist, Grazer knows how important it is to engage in self-care activities, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That's why, on the weekends, she makes sure to hold space for herself to have "me" time. "I’m usually relatively busy, even on a Sunday, because I’ll be traveling to and from my family’s home. But when I can give myself a Sunday night alone, I relish not having to answer to anyone," says the 32-year-old.

It's important to her that other people don't feel alone during such a traumatic and unstable time in America—and so she's made it her mission to create workshops to help those who are currently struggling. "We've recently partnered with #HalfTheStory for a series of trauma-related Frame Discussions to open this conversation up more and help people understand they are not alone in their experiences," Grazer explains.

For this week’s Self-Care Sunday, we spoke with Grazer to learn more about her current weekend routine. Here, in her own words, are her go-to Sunday activities, plus advice for people who are struggling to take care of themselves during this difficult time.

Mental Health

As a therapist and the chief clinical officer of Frame, my career centers around mental health, so it's always something that is on my mind. I have to remain aware of my own mental health needs in order to be able to provide therapy to my clients and also run my business.

Go-to mental health practices

If I’m not mindful, I tend to cater to the needs of others rather than expressing and addressing my own genuine needs. As an ongoing mental health practice, it’s important to step back, check-in with yourself, and ask yourself, “What am I needing/seeking right now?” and find a way to get your need met (even if it’s not perfect).

Self-care is an important element for my mental wellness even though it can be hard to commit to when I feel overwhelmed. There’s a metaphor that we often use in therapy, which is that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others because if you don’t tend to your own needs (aka put your mask on), you won’t be able to help others.

Anxiety often manifests in the form of worrying about the future or worrying about something that you did in the past and how it’s going to impact the future. Grounding yourself in the present can help reduce conscious and unconscious anxiety. Personally, I also like to write things down. When I write down the task that I’m feeling anxious about, I feel as though I can put it out of my mind, that I don’t need to keep holding it in my head.

Wind-down practices to combat Sunday scaries

The Sunday scaries is a newer term for me but definitely a familiar and old feeling. I notice that I tend to feel anxious before returning to work in anticipation of all of the perceived tasks that I know must be accomplished. It can be hard not to let that anxiety spiral take over. With that said, my practice is to focus on being present with myself on Sundays rather than ruminating on all the impending “to-dos.” Overwhelming anxiety causes me to feel detached from the present moment and impedes my ability to connect with my loved ones and enjoy my time.

Physical Practices

Sunday routine since coronavirus 

Weekends are my time to take care of myself. My coronavirus Sunday routine includes early morning Jiu-Jitsu with my partner, acai bowls, visiting my family, and then having a little alone time in the evening to decompress and prepare for the week. I usually try to do the bulk of my cleaning, household tasks, and errands on Saturdays. That way, Sunday is a day that I can dedicate myself to the enjoyable things in life.

Advice for including exercise in your routine

Sometimes, I don’t practice what I preach, but I have to say that exercise and movement are so important for your overall wellbeing. I find that when I don’t exercise or move, I begin to experience increased aches and pains, stress, fatigue, and depressed moods. It can feel really difficult to break the cycle of stagnance and get moving, but anything is better than nothing. If you can’t bring yourself to go for a walk outside, walk around your bedroom, stretch, and give your body a break from the couch or chair. Taking a mindful meditation walk can feel grounding and relieve stress as well.

Community Care

Advice for helping others without burning out

Offer compassion and listen to those you feel comfortable connecting with. Check in with yourself—determine how much of yourself you can give and whether you feel safe enough to extend yourself. 

Personal Joy 

Quarantine silver linings

To be honest, I don’t love going out to restaurants. I actually prefer being in a home environment and having takeout when possible.

Advice for people struggling to take care of themselves right now

This is a really tough time for so many people for so many different reasons, and trauma affects us all in many different ways. My best advice would be to seek help. It can be really hard to ask for help, but look to those that you trust and give them an opportunity to help you. Even if it’s something small, just asking for and receiving help can be therapeutic in itself.