Karen Pickles first called Distress Centre’s crisis line six years ago. As a single mother of two children and caregiver to someone with severe mental health issues, she found herself calling DC often.
“I’m sure that we would have called on a weekly basis for the first year,” Karen recalled. “There’s been so many times where we’ve just needed a way to reach out to somebody that isn’t a police officer or a first responder, who can help guide me a little bit when things are getting tough at home.”
Karen said that her family eventually found success with other supports in Calgary, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association. After finding the right intervention for her loved one, she hasn’t needed to call our crisis line for months.
“It gradually got better,” Karen said. “That’s the thing people do need to realize – it will get better. It will.”
Karen is happy that her family is in a better place and no longer requires frequent support from DC, but she’s glad to know the line is there if she needs it.
Going through the experience of caring for her loved one made Karen aware of the need for everyone, and particularly caregivers, to take care of themselves in order to avoid burnout. Her daughter suggested that they begin making self-care kits, and from that suggestion, Stresscase was born.
Stresscase self-care kits are curated to help the receiver reduce stress and most importantly, to encourage them to build a self-care routine. Karen and her daughter have been running the company for three years.
“Self-care is simply putting yourself first so that you can be stronger to show up for others when the tough times come, because they will come.” Karen explained. “The best healing that has happened in our family has been since I started looking after myself.
I do curate these self-care kits and we have beautiful things in them, like bath bombs and soaps and beautiful teas,” Karen continued. “But the point of these items is to create a self-care practice for yourself. It’s more about the mental game of practicing self-care than it is about a bubble bath.”
Karen recognizes from her own experience that carving out time for yourself is not always realistic or possible.
“One of the key challenges that I have and that I’m sure lots of parents have, is that my schedule is already so full,” she said. “The idea of taking time for myself is almost insulting, because am I not doing enough already? Am I not already maxxed out enough?”
Instead, she has found ways to build self-care into her day without needing any extra time for it.
How Karen builds self-care into her day:
- “Being mindful of the food I put into my body, so when I make a meal or have something to eat, I seek out healthy food.”
- Going easy on caffeine and alcohol.
- “I seek out wonderful teas that are going to be my treat. I’m still busy working away but I’ve got a beautiful herbal tea to enjoy.”
- Getting enough sleep and having procedures in place for when she can’t sleep, such as breathing exercises and thinking about what she is grateful for, instead of worrying about problems she needs to solve.
- “You have to breathe, so why not use the time when you’re breathing to do it really consciously. It has a huge impact on your stress level, being able to take nice, deep conscious breaths.”
- Karen even does mirror work. Looking in the mirror can bring up negative emotions for many people. Karen will look into her eyes and remind herself that she loves herself, and be purposefully self-compassionate, instead of focusing on perceived physical flaws.
Grab your own self-care kit from Stresscase.