Self-Care During a Pandemic

Just like the rest of the world, all of us are experiencing life during a pandemic for the first time. And for many of us, it has been challenging. Some of us are learning how to navigate a job during this new time, some of us are figuring out how to teach distance learning to students or some of us are parents and attempting to figure out the best schooling for their children. And some of us are doing all three.

While we’ve all likely missed opportunities, had to cancel or change plans, have been separated by loved ones, or maybe even lost loved ones, the last thing we’re thinking of is taking care of ourselves. But in the same way a parent is told to put on their oxygen mask on a plane before assisting their child, we should be making self-care a priority. But what does that look like during a pandemic, when places and events are closed and when we’re practicing social distancing and kids are home doing distance learning school? You’re likely not even getting alone time, never mind self-care.

A few weeks into the pandemic, after the five of us had been crammed in the house, working from home, doing school from home, restaurants closed, church closed, sporting events, and concerts canceled, I realized this wasn’t going to end anytime soon. And instead of taking it a day at a time and hoping for the end, barely finding the joy in the small things, I had to change my thought process. I decided to focus on what I still had and what I was getting in return, rather than thinking of what was being taken from me as a result of the pandemic. For my family, it meant creative meals at home, movie series binging, music dance party nights, and VR gaming challenges. With three teenagers and one graduating and going off to college this fall, we realized quickly, that we were given the gift of time as a family.

While I’ll likely always treasure the additional family time, there was still something missing. Something BIG. Something I was lacking. Self-care. It’s the one thing I always put on the back burner but I knew I needed to make it a priority. For me, one of the best self-care things I can do is alone time. But how was I going to get that when I was always home surrounded by people? Just thinking and dreaming about alone time made my mental health even worse. Because I knew it was unlikely I would get this anytime soon. At least not unless I made it a priority. Here are some things I have been trying. I hope they help you. And I’d love to hear some of your ideas or things you’ve tried that have worked. Please comment below 🙂

Self-Care Tips That Worked For Me:

  • Invest in noise canceling headphones
  • Separate yourself from the rest of the family–even if it’s a different room, or outdoors, or even a closet–it can do wonders
  • Take a hot bath or shower in the evening
  • Listen to music
  • Get outdoors–even if it’s not great weather, a few minutes outside breathing fresh air is so good for the body and mind
  • Cuddle with your pet
  • Drink a hot soothing beverage in the evening
  • FaceTime a friend or family member you’ve been separated from
  • Read a familiar, favorite, comfort book
  • Watch a familiar, favorite, comfort movie
  • Go for a drive–even better if there’s no destination
  • Journal–either making a gratitude list or a bucket list
  • Try a new workout routine
  • Unplug from social media
  • Order take-out for dinner
  • Set boundaries during this new normal
  • If all else fails, demand some alone time from your family, (if you have littles, put on a movie and don’t feel the mom-guilt) and take it!
Here’s me with my son’s VR Oculus headset on playing Beat Saber. I was super focused! Ha!

Is This Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

In light of the current situation surrounding our world, there seems to be no escape from reality. A phrase like, “We’re all in this together,” has never held more truth. With nearly everything around us closed it feels somewhat strange to have the world continue to spin. Some nights I go to sleep and think I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream. But as each day passes and the longer we remain in this new “norm,” I realize this is real life. And not a fantasy. So how can I create a new routine, a new functionality, a new “norm?”

Since I’ve been working from home with my day job for 6-7 years, continuing to do so hasn’t been much different. Though now, I have kids at home due to school closure. As well as a distracted mind by all that is going on around me in not only daily life, but the world. My volunteer work has been switched to online, livestreams, and virtual meetings. My family still needs clean clothes and to be fed. So not everyone is bored at this time, some of us seem to have more on our plates than ever before. Which has made accomplishing anything “extra” difficult.

Writing is not only a passion, it’s also a way of self-care for me. But when I have many things on my to-do list, and I’m quarantined inside the house with four other people and two dogs, it gets placed on the back burner. This is common in what I’m hearing around the writing/creative world right now. Everyone seems to be having a hard time to either create or to produce. But if you need to do it to center you, to get your self-care in, (like me) you need to try to find a way–in your new routine, new “norm,” to make it a priority. Sources tell us, this virus, this stay-at-home order isn’t going away anytime soon, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t continue spiraling. I need to find a way to fit my writing into my new “norm.”

Here’s some tips I plan on putting to the test:

-Delegate a specific time each *day to write.

-Try not to read the news on the day you plan to write, (it will be there when you’re done–trust me).

-Find a place in your home where you can separate from distractions to write, (noise cancelling headphones are amazingly helpful as well).

-Set a goal of what you’d like to accomplish during that writing session.

-If social media is a distraction or brings you down, try to take a break or step away until you’ve met your goal.

-Find either an online writing community or critique group, somewhere or someone you can find support, (it’s so much better knowing you’re not alone).

There’s not much control we have over the decisions being made surrounding our world right now, but we can take control of our actions. And for me, making writing a priority means I’m making my mental health a priority. I’m planning on setting small writing goals to start with. But also plan to give myself grace. These are uncharted waters. Please feel free to share your goals, how you’re managing with your writing, or how writing has changed since the virus hit your community.

Stay safe and healthy, friends!

*I say, each day, however the reality for some may be every other day, or weekly. Whatever you used to do before the pandemic seems like a solid choice/goal.