For Mental Health Awareness Month, an Amendment to Self-Care

May 31, 2023   /   Office Culture

(a word from our exquisite Human Resource Specialist, Mandi Stiles, SHRM-CP)

Treat yourself  // A little “You Time”  //  Self-care

Do these phrases mean anything to you?
No, really. When you read these quips, is there a connection to the words? Do their meanings resonate with you?
If yes, fantastic! But stay on the line because the principle behind this post still applies to you. Sorry, you’re not off the hook for reading just yet.At their core, the ideas presented in these phrases is that the individual would set aside specific time to care for their own needs and sense of self. Self-care. Makes sense, right? Wonderful intentions packed into easy to swallow sound bites.

By any chance, is it possible that these phrases have been parroted at you so much that they’ve lost their meaning? Just a crazy pitch of mine, but I would bet it’s the same effect as seeing a sponsored tweet using a long dead meme. Suddenly, a corporation telling you to treat yourself to their specific product feels more like a strain on your wallet than a genuine act of kindness. Capitalism co-opted self-care to the point where someone might reasonably reach the conclusion that caring about themselves with expensive lotion is too costly.

Thankfully, we have a saving grace—a Hail Mary to deliver us from the evil of bottled love with a price tag beyond our budget.


It’s a tool we use all the time. Other names for reframing include redefining, looking at it from a different angle, and having perspective.

(It’s starting to feel like every idiom or phrase we use is just the same twenty something ideas repackaged, huh?)

Some messages are going to hit home for some people. No monolith exists that can be impacted the same exact way by the exact same words. Subjective, words and their connotations change from person to person. I think that’s beautiful and would love to wax poetic about it, but that’s not why we’re here right now.
Instead, I want to challenge you to find words that work for you. Reframe self-care. Your words can be anything: made up from a fictional language, borrowed advice from your grandmother, something your friend told you at 3am when you definitely should have been asleep. Anything as long as it rings true to you.
My word, my little reminder to be intentional about what I need, is mending.
Mending feels like a soft word, mending exists as routine upkeep, and mending implies that nothing is too broken that we can’t save it through small acts of kindness. Just a little sewing, and that snag in the sweater disappears.
I would like to show you this practice in action.

During the lockdown, I, like most people, struggled to keep my wits about me. I logged off of work one day frustrated and upset by a situation that I had no power to fix (don’t tell my coworkers, or they’ll think this is about them and then it’ll be a whole thing). Bone-tired, I wanted a nap.
There was no car ride home to decompress. I couldn’t go outside or I would risk running into someone who didn’t take covid precautions seriously. I would be walking straight from my living room to my bedroom in a foul mood.
With the frustration building, my inner voice became cruel “Oh, a nap at 5pm? We’re done pretending to be a useful adult? Yeah, why don’t you go wallow in your own misery in your dark little hovel of a bedroom. You deserve it.”

A practice to highlight here is interruption. When your brain starts to spiral, it feeds into a negativity loop so difficult to break out of. Ways of interrupting can present either mentally or physically, like running water over your hands, moving to a different room, or speaking to yourself out loud instead of in your head. It’s a difficult practice, I won’t lie, and the only way I can do it at all is because of my therapist. Big shout to the OG: Kelley, you’re my one and only.
I recognized that if I went to get in bed even though everything in me was sooo tired, it would only cause more misery with this line of thinking. So, I interrupted myself (so rude, right?).
“No. I’m mending. I’m exhausted, I need rest, and that’s mending.”
And suddenly? I wasn’t a waste of space going to wallow in my own sadness. I was mending.
When I tell you I was GIDDY! Fixing what was wrong seemed too easy when I had the right word on my side.
If I was going to be mending, then I don’t want to smell like stress sweat. I hopped in the shower because time is arbitrary and showers can happen outside of “morning” and “evening.”
If I was going to be mending, then I didn’t want to wear clothes that encouraged discomfort. I traded the depression pajamas with a fresh, way too big t-shirt and shorts.
If I was going to be mending, then I was going to show myself kindness. And nothing could help me flip the switch more than that.
That’s my success story with reframing. Am I suddenly cured of ever having depressive episodes? No, but that one instance left a huge impact on me even three years later. I want that for you. I want you to have your minor breakthroughs, your moments of joy, your phrases that mean something to YOU.

So, what’s your word?


In 2021, Asakura Robinson teamed up with Rockford Housing Development Corporation (RHDC), a non-profit focused on low and moderate-income housing production in Rockford, Illinois, to create One Rockford.

One Rockford is an RHDC and community co-led effort to meet the housing and related needs of Rockford residents. Asakura Robinson was tasked with the needs assessment, which provided a deep analytical picture of Rockford’s current housing situation and related social determinants of health. It used historical and current data to determine where populations of greatest need live, what areas lack community assets and resources, and where future homes and resources would be most suitable. Data-based evidence combined with community story-telling produced the strong foundation for investments to be made for Rockford’s future.

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To read more related content, check out Senior Urban Ecological Designer Kari Spiegelhalter’s blog Data & Democracy: Utilizing Equitable Design Processes for Community Health. Here, she takes a deep dive into how fellow landscape architects can utilize data and research to improve community health outcomes.

The Neighbors Program

If you belong to a community organization that could benefit from assistance in building a case for action using data analytics, consider applying to the Neighbors program, our pro-bono assistance program where we partner partner with community-based organizations, community members and other non-profits to provide technical assistance needed to build community capacity and work towards achieving project implementation.

Margaret Robinson Lands Coveted TX ASLA Distinguished Member Award May 5, 2023   /   Press / Awards