Self-care is an investment in wellbeing for our loved ones, our communities, and ourselves. We engage in basic self-care activities on a daily basis: self-care can be as simple as eating a meal when we are hungry or resting when we are tired. Self-care is not about “pampering” oneself. Self-care means paying attention to our physical, mental, and emotional needs, and proactively taking steps to meet those needs.
Ideas for Taking Care of Oneself After an Abortion
- Reach out to others. Does anyone else in your life know what is going on for you? If not, is there anyone you can think of you might trust to share your story with? Prayer can be a completely private way of “reaching out.” Or, reach out to support services such as the Exhale talkline.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings about the abortion. Keep a journal, write letters (to send or not), or try writing poetry and/or fiction. You don’t have to show your writing to anyone unless you want to.
- Creative expression of any kind can help to explore and release emotion. You can draw, paint, sing, dance, knit, cook, build something, or repeat other creative activities you’ve enjoyed in the past. Let your feelings flow into your creation.
- Notice the sensations that accompany your emotions. Give yourself permission to explore each emotion fully. Breathe into your sensations. Notice if they change, or if they prompt you to move. Follow your instincts: if it feels good to growl when you are angry, try it out! If it feels good to rub the center of your chest, give yourself that comfort.
- Spend time outside. Take walks or hikes, sit in a park, tend to a garden, find a place you can see the stars.
- Exercise. Do what you love. Or, if the ways you usually exercise are not appealing right now, try new activities. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try that you haven’t yet? Swim, run, dance, bike, boat, or join a class. If it is difficult to find the motivation, try to find an exercise partner. Note: if the abortion was very recent, follow the instructions of your medical provider regarding exercise.
- Plant a tree or another plant that has meaning for you. Make sure it has what it needs to thrive.
- Care for others. Adopt a pet, or volunteer in your community.
- Set new challenges for yourself. Climb a mountain, or learn a new skill.
- Take care of your space. Clear out a closet; do a deep clean; rearrange your furniture; or spend 15 minutes each day cleaning your space.
- Find quotes, songs, or movies that express what you are feeling.
- When you feel shame or self-judgment, invite yourself to have neutral curiosity about what you are feeling. Ask yourself what you are learning from this experience.
- Meditate, pray, or participate in faith community activities. If you do not have a faith community, start by simply taking 2 minutes—just a few times a day—to focus on your breath and detach yourself from your mental chatter. Throughout the day—whenever it comes to mind—just take a moment to pause and take a deep, cleansing breath. Clear a space in your mind.
- Rest. Close your eyes and listen to what your body/self wants. Turn off phones and gadgets and try a nap, or a bath. Using props can feel good: tuck pillows or blankets tightly around you, rest a beanbag on the middle of your chest, put a pillow over your eyes, or cozy up with a hot water bottle.
What’s important is to find something that works for you, and suits your life, beliefs, and needs. Take small steps by starting with something that you can do today.
What will affirm your own sense of dignity and wellbeing?