Recently, I gave a eulogy for a close friend and coworker of mine. I know opening with a statement like that may feel like I’m bringing the room down, but for many of us, the room is already there. It feels a little like the world is on fire and, in some cases, it is. It’s uncertain and scary, and I don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes I feel a little helpless.

When I heard of my friend’s passing, I felt myself starting to spiral both in and out of work. I felt overwhelmed, and I couldn’t quite focus on much of anything. It took me some time to realize I had to stop, take a deep breath, and focus.

Loss is hard; we all experience it. Forgetting isn’t the answer; however, finding ways to cope is necessary. The message I’m trying to get across is this — self-care isn’t selfish.

Two days before the funeral, I shut my email and phone off and got a massage. I needed to take some time to center myself. The smell of peppermint and lavender still made it through my COVID-19 mask, and the spa music reached my ears. I felt peaceful for the first time in days. When I left, while I was still sad, I felt hopeful.

Giving the eulogy wasn’t easy, but I would like to say I felt I gave him justice and, perhaps, comforted the people who were also experiencing loss. If I hadn’t taken time for me, that wouldn’t have been the case.

I know we aren’t all going through the same loss, fears, stresses, and life events. I’m not saying a massage is the answer for everyone, but we all need to find our own ways to cope. Drinking coffee with a friend over Zoom, painting your toenails, listening to music, reading a book…this list goes on.

My friend who is no longer here recharged himself by talking to others. He took such pleasure in just calling and chatting about anything and everything. Have you reached out to your friends or coworkers just to ask how they are doing?

There are so many professional resources available out there, too. Have you called your doctor, or looked into Responder Health, Joyages, or ethOs? Have you explored text or online counseling?

The bottom line is this — we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves first. It doesn’t make you a bad spouse, parent, or friend if you need to unplug and recharge. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you need time apart from those closest to you to take time for yourself. And believe me, those around you will appreciate that focused version of you!