Fun in the sun. A collective sigh of relief could almost be heard as we prepared ourselves for a week of sleeping in late, staying up even later, and enjoying time doing....well, doing nothing. I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit as if I am in the longest dream of my life as I learn to navigate what has turned out to be the longest “Spring Break” of my life.
While schools let out for Spring Break and travel agencies prepared for an influx of activity, the novel Coronavirus had different plans. The result of which has been days that have turned into weeks, and weeks pieced together into what has become our reality over the last eight months. Along with quarantining and an overall slowing of life as we know it, individuals and families alike have been forced into this “new normal” of “virtual school, work from home, Zoom filled life.” The stress levels of which have increased exponentially over this time, bringing with it a whole new host of challenges and questions without answers. Although how we manage to get through this pandemic might look different for everyone, it is evident for all of us that we make self-care a priority.
What comes to mind when you read the words “self-care a priority?” For many individuals this may sound like a foreign concept. One that isn’t realistic for the parent or guardian trying to balance working from home and assisting their children with virtual learning. If this sounds like your life, I have good news. There are many ways to incorporate self-care into your life regardless of what your current circumstances are.
What is Self-care? At its core, self-care is simply the act of caring for yourself. Premier health explains it this way, “if you are not well, you can’t take care of others. Self-care means putting yourself first. It is not a selfish concept, but a necessary one (Premier Health, 2020). Self-care allows us to take a moment to breathe and clear our head, as we cope with the stress and unknowns of life. This could look like simply closing your eyes and counting to three, taking a walk, or even getting a massage. The list of ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routine is endless and could encompass anything that brings you joy and allows you to cope with the new challenges that life in a pandemic brings.
Not only is it important for us as adults to take care of ourselves, it is important to understand that our children are also stressed and overwhelmed during these uncertain times. As the CDC tells us, when caregivers deal with the Covid-19 calmly and confidently they can provide the best support for their children” (CDC, 2020).
Fuel your body by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Exercise every day.
Take deep breaths and stretch often.
Avoid risky or destructive behaviors, such as abusing alcohol or drugs, excessive gambling or ignoring public health recommendations.
Spend time outside, such as going for a walk in the park, but follow social distancing guidelines.
Set and maintain a routine at home.
Focus on things you can control.
Use technology to maintain social connections with your loved ones. Consider a regular check-in schedule to give you something to look forward to.
Focus your thoughts on the present and things to be grateful for today.
Listen to music or read books.
Consume reliable news sources that report facts and avoid media that sensationalizes emotions. Limit your exposure or take a break from news and social media if you find that it makes you anxious.
Lean on your personal beliefs and faith for support.
Look for ways to help your community, such as blood donations, checking on older people in your neighborhood, or donating supplies or money to local organizations.
Acknowledge and appreciate what others are doing to help you and your community.
CDC. (2020, July 1). Helping Children Cope. Retrieved from Daily Life coping for parents: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/for-parents.html
Premier Health. (2020, August 20). Rethink Your Self-Care Routine As Pandemic Lingers. Retrieved from Premier health: https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/healthnow/rethink-your-self-care-routine-as-pandemic-lingers
Reichert, S. (2020, April 7). Self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Health System: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/self-care-tips-during-the-covid-19-pandemic