Practicing Self Care During a Pandemic
In just a few short weeks, your entire world has been turned upside down. Your children’s schools were closed. Your employer asked you to work remotely. Your state may have issued a shelter-in-place order, or in the least, your communities are practicing social distancing and home isolation.
You’re trying to keep yourself and your family physically healthy during this pandemic, yet these changes are enough to stress anyone out — to the max. Are you also taking care of your mental health?
Self care is an important practice at any time, but it’s vital during emergent situations, and a pandemic is surely an emergency.
If self care isn’t something you’re used to practicing or you feel like your current self-care activities are falling flat, here are nine different ways you can find some peace during the pandemic.
1. Take Care of Your Basic Needs
People may scoff at the idea of simple tasks such as brushing their teeth or changing their pajamas and into “normal” clothes, but basic self care is often the first to get neglected. Yet, it’s one of the easiest forms of self care to put into practice. When you’re feeling stressed, take a look at your surroundings and your day, and see if there’s anything you can adjust to feel more confident in yourself.
Erin Balsa says, “I literally worked 14.5 hours yesterday (amid many interruptions from the kids), so my self-care was finding time to take a shower.”
2. Renegotiate Boundaries
Everyone’s lives have changed so much because of the coronavirus, and because of that, it’s important to set firm boundaries where they might not have been needed before.
Change manager Crystal Harris says, “Self care for me has been speaking up now in a way I would’ve negotiated at the onset, but didn’t need to then because my circumstances were different. I mean, essentially my work has changed, and employers aren’t immediately considering that in regards to things like equipment and availability for collaboration. If when I was hired I was BOTH a worker and a homeschool mom, I would’ve requested different things. I’m asking for those now.
For example, I recently said, ‘I’m now a working parent who also homeschools. I need to only be included in critical meetings and the rest of my tasks I’ll complete during nontraditional hours.’”
3. Take Time for Play
Working at home with children may feel overwhelming — if you let it. A shift in perspective allows you to feel the joy of being playful again.
“I am discovering my inner child and he’s awesome,” says Michael Rongner, a software engineer. “That is my biggest self care tip, take time to play….with your children, with your spouse, or with your pets. I’ve been gifted time back, and I’m determined not to wish it away. My 3:00 pm coffee break has been replaced with backyard games with my children. What a gift.”
4. Get Physical Activity
There are so many links between physical activity and a healthy mental state. And because of that, many people find solace in self care breaks that include getting their heart rate up.
Writer Jamie Coelho says, “I take a break from working from home and homeschooling by going for a run by the water. The shore is very calming, it’s a solitary activity, and I feel so much better breathing in the fresh air and soaking up the sunshine. Sometimes I run alone. Sometimes I push my young daughter in the stroller. We both enjoy it very much. Bonus points if we see a dog or two along our route.”
5. Create Moments for Self Care Activities Throughout the Day
A common objection from individuals who feel too stressed to take a moment for self care is that they simply don’t have time for it. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Self care doesn’t have to take a long time. It doesn’t have to be scheduled or planned. It can happen in the small moments at any given time.
Kate Youngs, a business visibility strategist, says, “I try to find little pockets of time for self-care while at home with the kids. Most generally, those moments involve sunshine, fresh air and movement with or without the kids.”
6. Enjoy the Little Things About Self Care
Social media manager Sierra Barter Terry embraces all of the little joys in being able to work from home. Like Coehlo, she’s enjoying the opportunity to get physical exercise, even though she’s stuck at home. In fact, she’s making it even more of a priority. She says, “I have promoted self care by adding exercise to my Outlook calendar. I love my Peloton and virtual pilates and barre classes by my local studio.”
Though, Barter Terry also focuses on some of the little enjoyments as she’s working remotely. For a few examples, she says, “quality time with the dogs, working on projects around the house, face masks during conference calls, and being grateful for the ability to make real, healthy meals for lunch and breakfast!”
7. Calm Your Thoughts
If you find yourself tuning into the news more often or scrolling through social media and feeling utterly bombarded with information that makes you anxious, meditation may be a great form of self care.
Author Suzanne Brown says, “Meditation is a great way to start or end your day (although you can use it whenever you need to during the day). An easy way to do this at night for those new to meditation is to focus all your senses on a single moment that you really enjoyed. For example, remember a day at the beach. Feel the sun on your face and the waves on your legs. Feel the sand between your toes. Smell the salty air. Hear the sounds of the waves. All those senses focus on that moment instead of all the other things.”
8. Create a Commute for Self Care Alone Time
Need a moment to yourself? Find it hard to switch between your work life and your home life? Creating space in between your family time and your work life creates pockets of self care for you to fill any way you please.
Darlene Ballard, a closing officer, says, “I wildly miss my commute. There’s no barrier between work and home so I need an act I can do when I’m done working for the day to separate the two and signal to my brain it’s ok to relax. It might be a walk, some stretching, or a shower.”
9. End Your Day Well
If starting your day in an organized manner is what makes you successful throughout the day, put in the effort at the end of your work day to achieve that for the next day.
Kate Huot Bruzzi says, “I often end my work day feeling guilty that I didn’t accomplish enough, or that I should spend a few hours getting ahead while no one was on Slack to distract me. One thing I like to do for self care is be intentional about ending my day. Set a time that you want to end your work day and check in 30 min before that time to make sure you will be at a good stopping point. Make a list for tomorrow to prioritize your to-dos, close your laptop, and leave your home office feeling proud of the work you accomplished that day.”
Self care isn’t something that can be scripted. Be open to trying new things and seeing what works for you.