Self-Care in a Pandemic

Rules for Self-Care

  1. Make sure that the dirty clothes pile and clean clothes pile are separated enough to not be confusing. 
  2. The days are now separated by “Coffee Time” and “Wine Time”
  3. Don’t eat that whole chocolate bar by itself! At least slather some nut butter on it for protein. 
  4. Haven’t washed dishes? That’s fine, wine comes in it’s own glass! Drink from the bottle!
  5. Days and time have no meaning, whatsoever.  
  6. Pants are optional (just make sure not to stand up during your zoom meetings)
  7. Wear whatever the fuck you want. 

In all honesty, I know the struggle is extra real right now. Anxiety, executive dysfunction, depression – we are all effectively suffering from emotional trauma and grief. Between…well, *gestures at everything*, neglecting self-care becomes really easy.

So when everything is too much, what can you do about self care?

Days are now separated into “Coffee Time” & “Wine Time” – may I present a transitional element between them?

Level 1 – The absolute basics

  • When did you last drink water? 
    • Hydration is really important. Try to at least be getting your water in.
  • When did you last eat something?
    • I’m not even talking quality of food right now, just eating SOMETHING. 
  • When did you last move from your chair/couch/bed?
    • I know moving can be hard, but at least stand up once an hour and stretch for a few. Even if you just walk in a circle in your own living room. 
  • When did you last brush your teeth or use mouthwash? 
    • Something this simple can make you feel refreshed and better.
  • When did you last shower?
    • Is a shower too much even? Take a bath. Heck, use a face wipe.
  • When did you last put on clean clothes?
    • Even if it’s just fresh pajamas, being in clean clothes instead of funky ones is helpful.
Check out @robcottingham on Instagram for more awesome merit badges.

Level 2

  • Cuddle/play with your pets
  • Put some music on
    • The effects of good music are something I can FEEL and if I haven’t listen to music in a while I feel the difference in my mood. 
    • Music is also great to get some more movement going. No one is looking, go ahead and bust a move!
  • Light candles/incense/spray febreeze
    • IF you can tolerate scents, just freshening up the scent of your space can improve your mood.
  • Do one selfish act. Something just for you, that you want to do. You can enjoy just that one thing without feeling guilty about it! Here’s your permission slip. 😉

Level 3

  • Block out time for self-care in your schedule. Long term, it’s not enough to just occasionally stop to take a walk or indulge in a hot bath. Self-care is an ongoing process. Just as you reserve time in your schedule for other appointments, set aside time to take care of yourself, too.
    • It’s important to adopt self-care habits that you can enjoy on a regular basis, and do them consistently to start making them automatic. It will help you avoid burnout.
  • Enjoy your favorite hobby. Your hobbies are part of self-care. So make time in your schedule for practicing the bass or baking cakes or putting together puzzles.  
  • Make note of the compliments you receive, whether in person, on calls, in emails, etc. 
    • You can keep them in a journal, diary, or online document. 
    • Compliments can serve as reminders that you matter, your existence is important, and someone appreciates you.
    • When you’re fighting negative thoughts, come back to these as a reminder.
  • Eliminate the things that no longer serve you. For example, if you’re keeping clothes in your closet that you hate each time you open the door, get them out of there! If a piece of art hanging on your wall doesn’t do anything for you anymore, switch it out! If a task you do everyday out of habit/obligation/because you “should” doesn’t work for you and, upon reflection, ISN’T required? Chuck it.  

Additional thoughts

Add Things You Truly Enjoy

We’ve all seen the “expert suggestions” – yoga, meditation, journaling, yada yada. All of these things are nice, and yes, for some people can help a lot! Many people even find these things fun. Others REALLY don’t. You don’t have to do things you don’t like just because everybody else says they work. 

There are many other ways to reach the same goal. For example, I’ve found writing gratitudes in a journal doesn’t really work for me, but focusing on things to be grateful for DOES help, so Harrison and I share 3 things we’re grateful for with each other in the morning. Visualization not really your thing? Make a digital photo collage of things in your life that bring you joy, or of the things you want to achieve/places you want to go, etc. Hate baths? Don’t take them! Find a fun body scrub for your showers instead. The point is to tailor your self-care practice to suit your unique preferences and desires. That will make you more likely to stick with it.

Fill your own cup before sharing it with others

Self-care often takes a backseat to work, family, friends, and other obligations. And when we are struggling with our mental health, it’s even easier to let it go. However, without stopping to take care of your mind and body, you’re at risk of burning out and suffering from serious health issues. 

When you’ve got commitments, responsibilities and obligations pulling at you from all angles, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t afford the time or resources to care for yourself. The fact of the matter is that you can’t afford not to. 

While you may assume taking time to care for yourself means less time and energy you can spend on others, the reverse is true. If you happen to play a role in life where you care for others, it’s all too easy to spend all your time and energy attending to the needs of others. 

But what about you? Who takes care of you and makes sure that you are okay?

Have you ever heard that saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? 

Chances are that nobody cares for you the way you care for others, so your cup is probably running low. Especially right now, when all our cups are running on low anyway. You’ll have to care for yourself or risk total and complete burnout – at which point you’re no good for anyone. 

Prioritizing your personal wellbeing is good for everyone. You’ll have so much more to give if you put yourself first more.  

Even if all you can do is the bare minimum to survive, it’s enough for now. When you CAN do more, do more. As has become one of my main sayings recently, have grace for yourself. This is an unprecedented time. Take care of yourself. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *