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Mental Health Month: ETR Well-Being Model

Mental Health Month: ETR Well-Being Model

By Debra Christopher, MSM | May 26, 2020
Ambassador for Health and Learning, ETR


-the state of being healthy and happy-

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In the spirit of ETR’s health equity mission, we have recently embarked on a journey to develop research-based guidance on steps an individual can take to achieve well-being and build resilience. We learned that, while self-care is an important component, our sense of purpose, our reliance on social connectedness, and our understanding and managing of the context in which we live (environmental, social and political pressures) are also as critical to our well-being.

We have mapped these four important well-being components as follows:

  • Reaffirm — Purpose: what I value; the intent of my work; what I hope to achieve. If my sense of purpose is not clear, or if I live out of alignment with what I value, I become vulnerable to burnout.
  • Replenish — Personal Practices for Self-Care: acts of compassion (self-care) directed toward my body, mind, and spirit in order to achieve well-being. Consider five domains of self-care: Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Professional.
  • Reconnect and Revitalize — Social-Connectedness: my community of support (communities I belong to, family, friends, colleagues, allies) who provide ongoing emotional and practical support - in both in-person and digital spaces.
  • Resist and Renew — Diminished Pressures and Taking Action: my commitment to analyze (make meaning of) social systems of power and structural inequities. Gaining this clarity gives me strength to resist undue pressure/oppression and move forward by renewing my sense of self and personal agency to take individual and collective action.

In observance of Mental Health Month, we are sharing an abbreviated list of items from our ETR Well-Being Model. Specifically, these items reflect suggested actions for the “Replenish” and “Reconnect” components described above. We encourage you to consider those items that are meaningful and doable for you and add additional items that feel relevant.


Personal Practices for Self-Care*

Physical Self-Care

  • Eat regularly (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and healthily
  • Engage in physical activity . . . every single day! (Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, skip, etc.)
  • Get regular/preventive medical care when needed
  • Take time off when you are ill
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take time to be physically intimate (with self or partner)
  • Other: ______________________

Psychological Self-Care

  • Take day trips, mini-vacations, and/or vacations
  • Take time away from technology: cell phones, email, social media, computer
  • Make time for self-reflection: notice inner experience (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings)
  • Meditate/Use mindfulness strategies to relax and stay centered
  • Do something out of the ordinary that shifts your thinking and focus
  • Engage in a new experience—something you don’t ordinarily do
  • Journal
  • Nurture your curiosity
  • Say no to extra responsibilities when you know it will overextend you
  • Other: _____________________

Emotional Self-Care

  • Accept, love, and appreciate yourself
  • Identify comforting activities, objects, people, places and seek them out
  • Allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions—happy, sad, angry, frustrated, hopeful, etc. (use the Feeling Wheel to help identify what you are feeling)
  • Look for humor in everyday life—laugh and smile often
  • Play
  • Express outrage through social action, letters, donations, marches, protests
  • Engage in moments of gratitude everyday—what are the things you are grateful for?
  • Other: _____________________

Spiritual Self-Care

  • Make time for reflection about values, meaning, and purpose in your life; practice gratitude
  • Spend time in nature
  • Connect with supportive spiritual community and engage in spiritual practice/ritual
  • Be open to inspiration; develop and cherish optimism and hope
  • Be open to not knowing
  • Meditate/pray/sing
  • Contribute to causes that align with your belief system
  • Enjoy music
  • Other: __________________________________

Professional Self-Care

  • Take a break daily from commitments/activities (e.g., lunch)
  • Make quiet time to complete tasks
  • Identify projects or tasks that are exciting and rewarding
  • Set limits and boundaries; negotiate your needs
  • Balance workload
  • Arrange workspace so it is comfortable and comforting
  • Identify a non-trauma area of professional learning
  • Form a peer support group
  • Other: _____________________

Reconnect and Revitalize

Social Connectedness**

Relationship Care

  • Spend time with others whose company you enjoy—make a plan
  • Stay in touch with important people in your life
  • Schedule regular quality time with your partner/spouse, family members, friends etc.
  • Stay in contact with faraway friends and family
  • Make time to reply to personal emails and letters
  • Allow others to do things for you
  • Ask others for help when needed
  • Enlarge your social circle
  • Share your feelings—a fear, hope, a hurt with someone you trust
  • Other: _____________________

Community Care

  • Find people who care about your purpose
  • Identify and spend time with your “communities” and stay connected. Ask for support/give support
  • Create friendly spaces for others
  • Push yourself to reach out when you begin to feel isolated. Ask for support.
  • Other: _____________________

*Personal self-care items are adapted from Saakvitne, Pearlman, & Staff of TSI/CAAP (1996). Transforming the pain: A workbook on vicarious traumatization. NY: W.W. Norton.

We wish you well!

For more information about ETR’s Well-Being and Resilience Model, contact Debra Christopher at

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