JSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosts Women’s Health and Wellness Panel

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Abby Grace Bentley, Correspondent

March is International Women’s Month—a month in which we celebrate the success of women that are often overlooked. At Jacksonville State University, the celebration has involved a focus on Women’s Health and Wellness. On Wednesday Afternoon, four panelists gathered via Microsoft Teams to discuss different methods and the importance of self-care. 

The discussion began with Dr. Gina Mabrey, Department Head of Kinesiology at JSU. With her extensive knowledge of physical wellness, she explained that the key to being able to care for yourself is to first fully understand your body and mind. 

“I’ve come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent, caring for myself is an act of survival,” Dr. Mabrey said. 

The perfect pyramid of self-care according to Dr. Mabrey includes the firm foundation of nutrition at the bottom, followed by rest in any form necessary, topping it all off with exercise. 

The next panelist was Trace Fleming, founder and Executive Director at Self-Care for Advocates (SCFA). Fleming began with declining that she knew everything there is to know about self-care. When people assume that she does, her typical reply is that she doesn’t.

 “That’s why I run a self-care organization. Because I’m lousy at it and most social workers and helping professionals are and that’s why we call it a practice because we have to keep practicing it all the time,” Fleming said. 

Self-care can be cheap or expensive, it can be quick or time-consuming, it can be an activity or rest. Fleming is very adamant about the individuality in self-care as well as its accessibility—explaining that self-care comes in many different forms no matter an individual’s needs or materials.

Another key idea discussed is the differentiation of self-care and self-soothing. Sean Creech, LICSW, PIP, and Director of the Office of Disability Resources, determined that people often confuse a temporary treatment (self-soothing) with a continuous treatment (self-care). Things such as getting ice cream once a week or ordering take-out rather than cooking fall under self-soothing and are much different than taking time specifically to be alone, reflect, or practice something you love. 

Marla Johnson Ford exhibited as the final panelist. She is a retired registered nurse with extensive knowledge and experience in different levels of physical and mental health and wellness. Marla rounded the discussion by elaborating on the difficulty of caring for yourself. It is by no means easy and takes a lot of practice as stated by previous panelists. When you hit an emotional wall, it can be very overwhelming, and you don’t even know where to begin taking care of yourself. Ford lessened the sting of this realization by stating that “It might not work out for you much right now, but someday you’ll accept where you are in life.”

Self-care can come in several forms. It was ultimately described by Dr. Gina Mabrey as “the active process of making your body and mind a pleasant place to inhabit.” Self-care is extremely important, but it can be a hard pill to swallow at times. We are all in need of self-care in some form—most in differing ways. It is a necessity for everyone in whatever way that may work for them.

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