JCU psychologists stress self-care on R U OK? Day

This R U OK? Day it’s important to remember to check in and ask yourself, “am I ok?”, say JCU psychologists and student support staff.

Dr Anna Kokavec and Dr Jane Harte stress the importance of self-care to ensure “U R OK” and have the resilience needed to be able to help others.

“Helping others is something most of us will automatically choose to do but sometimes the help can come at a personal cost,” Dr Kokavec said. “When COVID-19 hit, many people in northern Queensland were still dealing with the trauma created by the floods, and there is a lot of fear and anxiety in the community.

“Often people are struggling but feel they have to be strong and don’t want to admit they’re not coping.”

Dr Kokavec acknowledges that looking after our friends is important, but it can’t be at our own expense.

“After all, it is only when ‘I am OK’ that I have something left over to give to others,” she said. “How you feel is important too, so don’t put yourself last. How we treat ourselves needs to be the yard stick we use in order to decide how to treat others.”

Dr Harte said there are four building blocks we need to maintain the balance and remain resilient.

“We need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves physically, socially, psychologically, and personally,” she said. “All it takes is for one to be out of balance for us to feel unwell, whether mentally or physically.”

Dr Kokavec has launched an Instagram account to provide practical tools for people who want evidence-based tips on how to stay “balanced”.

“It includes the types of tips you’d receive if you attend a session with a psychologist,” she said. “Many people don’t want others to know they are struggling but checking an Instagram feed is anonymous, available to use whenever you need it, and it’s free.”

Check it out at: https://www.instagram.com/_MyProgram_/

The four building blocks:

Physical – there’s a lot of research that shows that the food you eat will impact your mood. Exercise is a great positive coping strategy. We need things like sunshine and clean water, because if our physical isn’t ok, we’re not going to feel good within ourselves.

Social – so who is it that you’re spending time with? Are you taking on board stuff that actually belongs to other people? It’s about those social boundaries. We do have a choice as to who we spend time with. And if you’re going to just give, give, give to others, and you can’t say no, that’s going to have an impact on you.

Psychological – we know that our thoughts determine our feelings. What’s your mind doing? Is it in the future, is it in the past, or is it in the present – which of course is where your control and power is.

Personal – this is the relationship I have with myself. When I look in the mirror what is it that I see? Do I see someone who has everything going for them, who can achieve whatever it is they set out to achieve, or do they see someone who is ugly and someone they are beating up on all the time.

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