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Transcript of It's Okay If You're Not Okay podcast Episode 04 10/14/2019

All: Welcome friends. Thanks for joining us for another episode. I'm Keith. I'm Kate. I'm Josh. I'm Rene. And It's Okay if You're not Okay.

Keith:  And so let's let's dig into this a little bit. Kate what are some of your favorite things to talk about what comes this self-care?

Kate: So before I get into my favorite thing I I just want to put in a disclaimer real quick that when we talk about self-care we... 

Keith: No, we're only allowed one disclaimer and that's a prescripted thing we say in every episode. 

Kate: I'm going to put in a sidenote. Right off the bat and just say that when we're talking about self-care that we all know what self-care is if we it's a buzz word. I mean if we're gonna be honest we we all talk about it. And so the importance of figuring out what works best for you and knowing that as we're giving you examples to make sure that you keep a list of different things because what works for you one day is going to be very different than what works the next day. So if I know that I'm in a place where emotional eating is going to be my thing which is not always considered a healthy coping strategy because it's a more of an avoidance you know mask the feelings then I know for me and I'm going to sound way older than I am but I I crochet because it keeps my hands going keep my mind off of things. And it's a skill that works for me in that moment. I know in other ones if I am needing to be more thankful grateful appreciative I have apps in place I know the calm app is great for me to utilize. And so when I talk about self-care I have to challenge myself. Some people will agree. Some people won't. But I have to process through what it is that I need and what is actually truly considered effective first what I'm thinking is effective just in that moment. 

Keith: I want to dive into that. Before that I do want to say our official disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent those of Johnson County Mental Health Center or Johnson County government. Now let's let's dive into that and I think Renee I was cutting you off there. 

Renee: No I just want to make sure that. And this is for the four of us in this space as well that Kate you bring up a great dialectic. Maybe that's a fancy word you bring up two things. Self-care and coping strategies are extremely different. We have different coping skills are. And so I'm going to challenge if that's OK. Crocheting, That's a coping mechanism. 

Kate: Great point. Thank you for correcting that. 

Josh: And, with that, an effective coping mechanism. 

Renee: For Kate. Where the self-care is. How do I take care of myself outside of those. But I will guarantee you that there are folks that we live among work among that are listening to this podcast. That could really confuse the two or haven't been exposed to the difference between coping strategies versus self-care. 

Josh: So can you describe that one more time so it's so it's so we can so the listeners can really understand stand? 

Renee: I hope you guys call me out if it's not making sense that that coping strategy is we're doing something probably an activity of some sort to avoid a behavior or a thought that we do not want to participate in. So again can I use your example Kate? 

Kate: OK. Yes. 

Josh: This is a great educational moment. 

Renee: And if you don't want me to use your example well I mean please let me know.  That is so it was a you just again so courageously let us know that when you are confronted with the option to emotionally eat to get a crochet needle and yarn that the weight in your hands you prevent yourself from doing that. Right. That is amazing. That's awesome. And that is a coping mechanism right. Right. So the self-care strategy, that I will challenge you to tell me what that is, is what do you do for yourself so that you don't find yourself in a place where you want to emotionally eat. 

Josh: Where you are emotionally regulated. 

Renee: That would be your self-care item. 

Kate: I appreciate being challenged on that. I'm a embarrassed. I mean I know the difference between the two I just I guess it says a lot about where I'm at now because I was just joking before we started about I was like I could talk about self-care all day long. I'm not the best at applying it and this conversation here goes to that because. Even when you say what is your self-care strategy. My answer is "I don't know" because I don't take that time. See I'm going to be kicked off this podcast. 

Keith: No. This is real right? This is what every person listening to this podcast is wrestling with. We all know self-care is important and it all it is a struggle for all of us to figure out how to be the most effective and or even what that means. 

Josh: Or they get it confused on a skill versus the first. 

Renee: Or you live in the world where you are just you are engaging exponentially more with coping. 

Kate: And that's where I think that's where I am at. And that's and I've been that way for a long time. I'm more reactive in terms of how I approach things. I used to be great at self-care. I used to so it used to be running for me was my self-care because I could go before I felt like I got to a heightened level I could just go run I could kind of connect. I was much more fit at that point but I could connect in a different way or kind of get some of that energy out. Physical Fitness used to be a big self-care thing for me. And then I've lost track once I transitioned to more into a working world. I would say sometimes my self-care ties into work some, and I know that Josh is going to look at me weird. But some of that self-care is because it brings me purpose and value and that is self-care to me. But I I do get stuck in the coping so, as embarrassed as I am that I navigated quickly to coping unintentionally since I know the difference. It does say a lot and I guess I'm challenging the listeners as well, because this has been a real eye opener already for me and we're about five minutes in, to think about how you're practicing and are you just putting a Band-Aid and continually sitting in the coping side of it because you're not being more proactive response versus prevention? 

Keith: Well I want to clarify is that we are we are saying that those coping strategies to avoid negative behaviors. Those can be positive too. I mean we're not saying, we're not saying that coping strategies are bad and self-care is good. 

All: No! 

Josh: Knitting for anxiety would be an effective coping skill. Drinking an anxiety would be an ineffective coping skill. 

Renee: And let me also go back to because I too can relate to the app the specific example of emotional eating eating a cheese pizza from Costco it would be a coping skill in that moment. I will tell you I will continue to have to engage in different alternative coping skills because I will come back to that emotional state instead of hey I'm going to pick up a crochet needle and some yarn and steer myself away from it. I sure did cope with that in the moment and give into it. I sure did, right, and didn't have the positive outcome. 

Kate: Right, how did you feel five minutes after? 

Renee: Absolutely. And so we definitely talk about some of the behaviors that we tend to classify as "negative" are is essentially coping and that is why we talk about in the world of recovery whether it's addictions whether it is mental illness its behavior replacement, right? We're doing these things and we've got to replace me, putting a cheese pizza in my mouth with something that doesn't have a negative impact on my health. 

Keith: Sure. I think for self-care then, let's come back to that. This conversation is a part of our lives and it's part. 

Renee: And, can I say thank you to Kate please. I feel that close to you and safe with this. I thank you for letting me say that and challenging to everybody because I thought what you would said was really powerful and letting me say Hey can I can I challenge that. 

Kate: Oh I'm glad. I'm like. I'm so glad you did because I know the difference and I just I. Yeah. 

Renee: Hashtag real life.  

Keith: Two words come to mind, so coming to self-care. Two words that come to mind that help frame that conversation. Both words, I think come from the worlds of physical fitness and then also spirituality are "practices" and "disciplines." These are long term things that we engage in, in some kind of ritual practice over time. And that's usually what we're mean my self-care. So Renee, what are some of your favorite self-care practices? 

Renee: Yeah absolutely. So there is a table that is in my place of residence and it looks like your dining room table but it does not function as a dining room table. And I am ok with the judgments and the thoughts and the feelings of other folks when they see it because it is the jigsaw puzzle table. And it sits in the middle of my dining room and I don't care because what I have recognized is that so I am an extrovert. I am an extrovert 28 on a 30 point scale. So I get energized by being around people. But let me tell you that does not mean that I don't need my space and my alone time and jigsaw puzzles keep my mind active enough but also relaxed enough and it keeps my fingers engaged and I get to not sit in my recliner and just sit there. But I'm at my table and the blinds are open and the sun shines in. And then I get to finish a product. I take a picture of every puzzle that I finish and then I start a new one and I donate the puzzle. My linen closet is a puzzle closet. So I have endless access to what brings me peace. 

Kate: Hmm mm hmm. That's great. I love it. 

Renee: So while I might not look like that "let's sit in quiet and do puzzles," that is what it is. I can absolutely go back to something I was introduced to as a child with my family where we'd sit down and do puzzles together. I just really recognized that doing that proactively and having it readily available I get to go "man today..." And again not as a coping. I don't use that when I need to escape. I don't do that because that would ruin it for me. 

Kate: The importance of finding the difference between what activity is. 

Renee: Yeah. Yeah. 

Keith: This is an act that I do on a regular basis. 

Renee: Yes. This Sunday evening, man, I've got a load of laundry in I'm going to sit at the puzzle table for an hour. Yeah. And that's what I do: jigsaw puzzles. 

Keith: I'm brought back to for me for self-care. Um probably the time in my life that I had the least amount of self-care and so thinking about what was important then. And then compare that to now. So there was a time when I was working full time as a manager at a community college and working 50ish hours a week and I was pastoring a church at the same time. And so like many folks out there who work in different um different industries: I had a lot of work all the time and there was always more that I could be doing in both places. And in that time it was like I felt like I was drowning. I tried to just tread water just to stay alive for a lot of that time. It was it was not good. But finding self-care was important in that and probably the most important discipline that I tried to instill was finding space, Usually a day, and so different traditions have a name that different things but like this is there is one day and every week that I'm that I'm not going to engage in the work that I'm doing in the other six days and saying this is time this is a day a space that I'm not doing those things and I'm going to be doing different things and thinking about time is almost like the circle that keeps repeating and it provides a day in the midst of that repetition that's not like all the other days. And I think that often we can get the most bogged down when everyday is the same. . And so that was a one practice that was beneficial for me and that can come in different ways. But just a boundary when are you shutting off what you do every other day and starting something different. And when do you turn that back on. And what practices do you instill at the front and back end of those rituals to help you transition out of maybe work world and into rest world. I think that what was interesting for me, because I'd worked multiple jobs for so many years that when I stopped and I only had one job I didn't know what to do with my time anymore. And I had to find new hobbies. I started writing for awhile. I took on writing project for 18 months and just that's what I did. That gave me life. It was a creative creative work where I was. I was creating something and then I had a product at the end. And for me that that was life giving. It filled that space to allow me to rejuvenate after several years of being worn out from working two jobs. Josh what about you? 

Josh: So my self-care is making sure that I suffer every morning for about an hour and a half, lifting weights exercising. Understanding that I need to do that so then I can go about my day. So I I take care my physical fitness and and workout. I also try to eat as healthy as I possibly can. That's a couple of things I do. Also it waxes and wanes just a little bit. But I took that same thing where I pick one day a week where I don't I will look at social media one time. And I don't do anything else on social media. I'll watch a movie with the kids all hang out with my wife or whatever and that's my dad. I'll do that. That's the newest thing that I've done for me as an extrovert. Similar to Renee. I'm a I'm probably a maybe even a twenty nine on that, so not to one up you. But also on Saturdays My wife works all day and I spend the whole day with the kids which is exhausting right. When you're the only one it's exhausting and you're just doing stuff and they're rowdy boys and it's just that I finally had to tell her we need a date night. Every Saturday night is date night no matter what. For my self-care and I need that connection to her and that other thing that's going on because my boys are old enough to do a lot of stuff on their own on Saturdays and they don't want to necessarily hang out with me but I still got to manage it all. So I spent a lot of time by myself and as an extrovert spending that much time by yourself is exhausting. 

Keith: It isn't that restful time for self-care. 

Josh: Exactly. So then. So we had to go through a couple of tough discussions that I'm in she's an she's an introvert so she spends all day talking to people and then comes home as like... 

Renee: "Leave me alone.". 

Josh: So we had to come we had to come to some terms. So she does some things before she comes home to reboot herself or has some time and then we go out on a date and or with friends or whatever and that's a huge self-care thing for me. 

Renee: Do you know what I think is really cool about that if I can kind of bring it back to that I'm coping vs. the self-care how how truly rich that is for your marriage so that you are not intersecting with your spouse when you need to cope. You are doing that as a refreshing rejuvenating regular part of of life and not a get me out of this house right now. Right. And putting that pressure. 

Keith: It becomes that practice and not a coping mechanism. 

Josh: And I would say that it was a coping mechanism at the beginning. 

Keith: You needed it in the moment to avoid doing other things.

Renee: And now and then you had a conversation. Communication can absolutely change some of those dynamics of our behavior into a really neat practice. 

Keith: Yeah. So that so that practice is interesting. That's the only one that we mentioned that requires...Like that's with somebody else. So you put that practice in. But when we're thinking about other practices, so working out for example or any of the other ones that we've talked about, how do you start a new practice? 

Josh: In the morning for me and I'm not saying this is for everybody else. I put my feet on the ground. I just put my feet on the ground and if I put my feet on the ground when the alarm goes off I know I'm gonna get up. 

Keith: It's just that really simple little thing: your alarm goes off and you put your foot on the ground, and that's step one.

Josh: Yep. Because if I if I don't if I start if I start rationalizing with myself I can rationalize all day long why I could just lay in bed. 

Renee: Take a look around and there's something that I actually intersected in a church space of "your life should reflect the priority of your loves." And could I see myself loving myself in my life? So if somebody came in and took a look at me and my space am I loving myself? And that's when I said the puzzle will stay out all of the time. If I need to have a dinner party I can put a tablecloth over the puzzle and protect my space or I can have it elsewhere. I needed my...Being present in my life was it was enough to make it a priority. It needed to be there. 

Keith: So there's like this priority for both for Josh. it's time, for Rene its space. One of the practices that I found to be helpful when I'm trying to start a new routine of self-care for myself is finding someone else who cares about the same thing for themself or who cares about me enough who can hold me accountable and so having some regular communication with them. So on the one hand I find that helpful because on some regularity I'm reporting to another person. On the other hand, I don't find it helpful because I still can every time tell them I didn't do it. I guess it's got to be important to me, right. 

Renee: Yeah buddy system. 

Josh: So I work out with my wife every morning. Sometimes I'm struggling to put my foot on the ground and she presses my knee. Also using a metaphor but like yeah. In that sense and we do it. So there is. So I'm still doing self-care but I still have somebody that is helping me. 

Keith: When I think about self-care, the words I use are "life giving." Like so activities that you do on a daily basis that give you life. So there's there's obviously other like physical health impacts of some of these practices that are that contribute to over your overall wellness or health but sometimes some of those things are not at the same time life giving to you in that by practicing these things you're able to enjoy life more and experience life to its fullest. Not in like the actual quantifiable way. 

Josh: It fills your cup. 

Renee: That my puzzle table and I get in a couple of pieces or work on a space I can conquer anything. That's right. I can. I really can. 

Kate: Having someone to talk to is great for self-care and it's also great when you're needing help coping. And so that's another one that I want to mention here is what we what you need to do to regulate and to talk through what's going on and get those strategies in place before it's needed. Yeah. 

Keith: Maybe the self-care side of that is more in the regular pattern of being in relationships with others that you're able to have those conversations and then that's the ongoing practice that makes it self-care.  

Kate: Just like a maintenance. 

Renee: I appreciated that that clarification because I do. I'm a huge believer in the communication the relationship hanging out with my best friend is self-care. But it can also be coping so I've got to do it strategically and plan dinner with my bestie but then when I am in peril or emotionally disregulated I reach out to her. I have. She knows and has given me permission to do that. Yeah and it's very different than a professional context.  And so right there is there is a difference. I think calling a crisis line can be a coping skill. I I'm not I don't think calling a crisis line is good self-care. I mean I again I challenge me I want folks so use that when they need to reach out. 

Keith: Calling a crisis line is not a regular practice you do a routine pattern ongoing as a part of your plan to have... 

Josh: It's a coping skill when you're disregulated. 

Renee: Engaging in mental health services engaging in physical health practices could be something that keeps you maintenance phase - maintaining your self-care and hanging out with your case manager every week.

Keith: I want to reiterate that when we say that's not self-care we are not saying don't do that. 

Renee: Right. Correct. 

Keith: Positive coping mechanisms and practices are positive things in your life. And so we're not saying don't do those if you need help. Reach out for help. 

Renee: A hundred percent. 

All: Thanks for joining us for another episode. I'm Keith. I'm Kate. I'm Josh. I'm Rene and It's Okay if You're not Okay.