Simon Biles’ withdrawal from Olympic events has the world talking. While critics argue that only physical conditions are legitimate reasons to withdraw, many others applaud her bravery and self-awareness. I personally see IHAN’s mission in her choices: she committed to her needs and boundaries over overwhelming outside pressure. These choices are never easy, especially with pressures as large as wildfires or pandemics – or global audiences – looming over us.
I applaud her decision and am so grateful to see worldwide reactions supporting and cheering her on as she chose to love and care for herself above what the world expects of her. I hope we all can apply her courage and strength to our own struggles. Mental health is physical health, and there is no way to separate the two. As humans are complicated beings, let’s add emotional and spiritual wellbeing into that mix. External pressures are unavoidable, and we cannot expect them to be merciful for our sakes. For all the challenges and tough choices that it entails, we must be the guardians of our own boundaries.
External pressures are unavoidable and often unpredictable, but not insurmountable.
We don’t have to just immediately try to make lemonade out of lemons when life gets hard. Instead, what if we practiced before the lemons got fully ripe about how we can most easily make that lemonade: what other flavors we want to add, what breaks we need to give ourselves in the process, and what help we need to ask from others?
This practice, known as imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), can be a sort of dress rehearsal for situations that may otherwise cause a fight, flight, or freeze response. With practice these visualizations can anchor in your mind and lead to more calm and clarity when you need it most.
As with many things in life, incorporating self-care into your daily life will strengthen these efforts. These daily doses will look and feel different for everyone, but rehearsal imagery can help you create a more complete picture of it for your life. What fosters joy, gratitude, and connection in your life? What helps you celebrate your daily victories?
At IHAN we know that internal resilience takes community support as well as practice. With that in mind, I invite you to use our free COVID-19 Resources and Fire Season Resources to build your own self-care toolkit. Our practitioner panels have some particular gems to support health and well-being while under stress. This month we have new resources from our practitioner volunteer community and collaborative partners. If you haven’t already, please follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to get the latest support for your self-care journey.
We are grateful for the collective cultural shift toward normalized self-care, and are honored to offer what support we can. With your support we can continue to bring you care-building and kindness-building resources for years to come.
Jenny Harrow-Keeler, MA
Cofounder & Executive Director
If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away or dial 911 in an emergency. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates, or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the Lifeline website or the Crisis Text Line website.
For additional information about suicide prevention, please see NIMH’s Suicide Prevention webpage.