Close-up of female student opening her notepad and making notes during sewing lesson at the table in workshop


Youth Ottawa's Program Coordinators

Self Care & Community Care during Covid

On Friday, May 8th we went Live on Instagram to launch a brand new web workshop series on a variety of topics pertaining to youth civic engagement. We decided to begin this series with a focus on empowerment- specifically, looking at way that youth can care for themselves and their communities during Covid 19- because we believe that civic engagement begins at home. Two of our youth coordinators, Jude Ashburn and Brenda Okorogba, facilitated the session on self-care and community care. What follows is some of the highlights from their presentation.

"Community care is at an all-time crucial importance as youth contend with the realities of the Covid 19 crisis. Many youth are facing highly stressful situations as they navigate this pandemic and it is for this reason that we chose to discuss the importance of care- both for themselves and for others."

Jude Ashburn

Why self care is collective care with Jude Ashburn

I would like to open by saying that the relationship we build with ourselves can sustain us for the duration of our lives and it is for this reason that we must nurture it. Your ability to be in relationship with others is inextricable from your ability to be in relationship with yourself because it is precisely how we learn to do so. Protecting yourself, honouring yourself, doing the best you can for yourself – this is all necessary. And this doesn’t mean that you will always be able to do everything that you want or need for yourself, but it means that you recognize the importance of caring for others as it starts with caring for yourself. 

One thing I like to ask myself is, what are my needs today and how can I meet them?

Quarantine is not easy! Being isolated and homebound is not easy on the body, mind, heart, or spirit. We are social creatures who require human contact to feel whole. When I feel overwhelmed by the situation I am facing, I find it helpful to divide my needs into categories. Different needs require different kinds of attention. For example, if I feel lonely, I may need to coordinate a way to connect with a friend. This can happen over a phone call, a video call, a letter-writing activity, text messages. It can also happen by looking up people on Youtube or other social media who share some of my identities and experiences so that I can feel myself reflected back at me, which disrupts isolation and fosters a sense of community. 

When I am feeling anxious, on another hand, it might be helpful to find ways to distract myself. A movie marathon or a puzzle might do the trick! For some people, this may require some grounding techniques (which we will share with you later on) or some physical exercise. Whatever you can do is good; it’s important not to shame yourself for behaviour that falls outside of your regular routines. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you are facing an unprecedented challenge. While endlessly scrolling through social media might not always be the most nourishing activity, it is okay if you don’t feel capable of much else. Do what you can. Try to switch it up when you are able to.

Since many of us no longer have our days structured by outdoor responsibilities (such as work, school, faith communities, sports, etc) it can be easy to fall into routines that don’t work for us over the long term. Making daily promises to yourself and then keeping them is a way of building trust with yourself. This trust is the most important relationship, and the goal of self-care.

I like to think about meaning. How can I make my day meaningful? It is perfectly understandable to feel helpless and hopeless given the state of the world. How are we to cope in the face of so much grief, fear, and loss? Keep in mind that things like community engagement and service don’t have to disappear just because you’re spending more time at home. You might be able to volunteer remotely, by writing letters (or random internet posts that might be useful to people), by preparing care packages, or in some other way I can’t even fathom. You also might be someone who finds meaning in something less community-based, like working toward a goal. You get to define meaning for yourself. And you get to do so each new day that you are alive. The important thing to remember is that you matter. Your life matters- and you can find a million ways to show that to yourself.

Download our self care resource list

Below I am sharing some self care and community collective care resources with you! Feel free to view the resources by hitting the link below!

Creating a self care plan with Brenda Okorogba

Hello, friends! Yes! I believe that self care helps you maintain personal power, feel grounded, and be resourceful. It is helpful to learn to identify activities and practices that support your well-being as a person and help you to sustain positive self-care in the long-term. Self-care is a personal matter. Everyone’s approach will be different. It relates to what you do at work and outside of work to look after your holistic wellbeing so that you can meet your personal and academic/civic/career commitments. It is important to develop a self-care plan that is holistic and individual to you.

You can make promises to yourself and keep them. How do we know when we are lacking in self-care? Our body, mind and emotions keep us informed as to whether they are being taken care of in the way the need to be. If you are low in energy, feeling stressed, irritated or frustrated. If you are lacking motivation, often procrastinating, lacking in zest or passion for life. If your emotions feel erratic and you are short-tempered, crying a lot, etc. These are all signs that you are due for some self-care. 

Many of us have so many responsibilities in life that we forget to take care of ourselves. Self-care is an important aspect of stress management. Having a well-cared-for body can make you feel good about yourself and your life, and conveys to others that you value yourself. This can contribute to long-term feelings of wellbeing. Self-care is not an indulgence – it is the core of our wellbeing. By self-care, I mean purposely and actively taking time for yourself to do something that rejuvenates and energises you. A holistic self-care plan looks at how we treat our body, mind and our spirit. We can take small steps to reduce stress and improve the quality of our lives. I am sharing below the four categories of self care below that can help guide your own self care plan. 


So what are the four categories of self-care? 

Categories of Self-care

Try it yourself! Download our self care template and complete it with your own activities. 

Your holistic self-care plan needs to address all elements of your life. You can break these down into four categories – physical, mental/emotional, social & spiritual. Once you fill out your personal chart, be sure to keep it in a place where you can see it every day. Put it up on your wall in your room. Keeping it visible will help you to think about and commit to the strategies in your plan. You can also share it with your teacher, supervisor, colleagues, friends and family so they can support you in your actions. Stick to your plan and practice the activities regularly. Check in with yourself every few months to reassess your plan. Forming new habits doesn’t happen overnight so you need to continuously tailor your process to make it work for you. Continue to add activities that bring you calm, contentment, happiness, and/or inspiration.

Download our self care plan template