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By: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc and as service providers we find ourselves experiencing stressors that seem new, different, or exacerbated. Coping strategies we used in the past seem to be falling short and leaving us asking ourselves, “now what?”

As the holidays approach, let us take time to self-assess how depleted we are, what depletes us, what we need to refuel and how much of it do we need to refuel. The best way to find the answers is to first acknowledge that we have perhaps depleted from within. Resilience and self-care are running dangerously low.

Follow the Steps Below:

  1. Self-assess your baseline resilience:
Do you… Yes Need to Work On
Have an internal locus of control – take responsibility for own actions?
Analyze – consider pros and cons, make decisions days ahead, think of what ifs, and always arrive an hour ahead?
Increase your chances for success by setting yourself obtainable goals?
Know you must be patient even though you rebel against that particular virtue?
Get irritated by self-pity partiers?
Have a bucket list?
Make plans for the future and take concrete steps – for instance book travel six months ahead?
Look forward the next version of your personal device – phone/tablet/computer/video game?
Read a book that you know is in or will be a series and that’s why you chose it?
Get up and go to work every morning no matter how bad the previous day was?


Responding “yes” to any of the questions above indicates you are resilient. Your resilience ensures that you have the reserve of strength needed to self-assess and pre-plan self-care for coping with these new and intense stressors.

2. Self-assess the impact of a stressor by identifying:

  • What is this feeling?
  • How intense is the feeling?
  • How long does the feeling last?
  • How frequently does the feeling repeat?

Consider a “feeling continuum” and mark what you feel based on words that aptly describe the intensity:


  1. Next, build a self-care plan by asking yourself the following questions:
  • What physical activities help me?
  • What psychological activities help me?
  • What emotional activities help me?
  • What spiritual activities help me?
  • What relationships help me?
  • What work activities help me?
  • What combination of the above help me?
  • What doesn’t help me?

Remember to pick your self-care activity because, “it worked for me in the past.” By pre-planning to extend, repeat or supplement the activity you can better cope with and minimize the impact of those new, different or exacerbated stressors.

  1. Finally, pre-plan for coping with the most intense feelings by:
  • Extending the duration of pre-planned self-care technique,
  • Repeating self-care technique through the day, and
  • Supplementing self-care with reflective practices – for e.g. journaling or short note-taking

Depletion is probably now a fact of our life. It’s time to refuel by:

  1. Self-assessing resilience and successful self-care.
  2. Measuring impact of new stressors.
  3. Pre-planning self-care for coping with depletion, and,
  4. Remembering that you are already resilient!

Additional Reference: Need to Refuel? Tools for Self-Care & Resilience

Image from Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D.