Another slightly more wordy than usual Sunday post, but I felt that it’s an important topic right now that deserves more than just a quote.
In these challenging times, taking care of yourself has become more important than ever, both in terms of your physical as well as your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Remember that the old adage of putting your own oxygen mask on first is true for a reason: you can’t help others unless you’re in good enough shape to do so.
What does self care mean during this pandemic? Beyond the obvious, such as trying to eat healthy and getting plenty of exercise and sleep, it may mean different things for different people. We all have varying approaches to relieving stress, and short of resorting to numbing the anxiety with behaviors that are detrimental, such as overeating, drinking and using drugs, I feel that you should do whatever works for you right now. I thought I’d share what self care looks like for me right now.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve altered my morning routine to allow more time for quiet contemplation at the start of the day rather than rushing to the computer to check email and Facebook. Instead, I sit down in my living room with my first cup of coffee (after feeding Allegra, of course!) and just let my thoughts drift. I get up while it’s still dark out. The only light in my living room is a string of colored lights I’ve attached to a tall plant. The soft yet cheerful lights lift my spirit at that time of the morning without being harsh. Some mornings, Allegra will join me on my lap, purring away, others, she’s off doing her own thing. Either way, this time is precious to me.
Once I head into my office, I start responding to emails and blog and Facebook comments. Unlike normal times, when I address business emails first, I am allowing myself the time to respond to personal emails first. Right now, it’s more important to me than ever to connect with friends, especially since I can’t see my local friends in person.
After breakfast, before I go back to work, I meditate for five to 15 minutes. I normally don’t use guided meditations, but these aren’t normal times. I have found the Ease Coronavirus Anxiety meditation by Katie Krimitsos exceedingly helpful, and find myself going back to it every time I find my anxiety spiraling out of control. She also offers a Let Go of the Fear meditation specifically focused on letting go of fears around the coronavirus.
What I don’t do in the morning: I don’t check any news. Not TV, not online. I don’t want to start my day with fear and negativity. There’s time for that later in the day.
Self care during the day
I allow myself more time than normal to get my work done. Everything just seems to take longer. I’ve heard the same thing from other writer friends: our brains are just not as sharp as they would be under normal circumstances. I think the collective energy of fear that is surrounding us right now takes a toll on our mental capacity. Plus, it takes so much brain power to just get through each day! At the end of each day, I’m exhausted, and I haven’t even accomplished all that much, unless you count sterilizing my mail and my grocery deliveries an accomplishment.
I go for at least one long walk each day, no matter what the weather. My state is under a stay home order, but we’re allowed to go for walks as long as we maintain social distance from others. Thankfully, that’s easy to do in my suburban neighborhood with its wide streets. Getting out in fresh air is critical for my mental and physical health.
I try to schedule at least one video or phone call with a friend each day, some days, I do more than one. I’m an introvert, and under normal circumstances, there are plenty of weeks where I may not leave my house except to go for a walk for two or three days in a row, but under normal circumstances, I also have at least three or four lunches and dinners with friends scheduled every week. It’s been hard to not have that, and while video calls are not the same as in person contact, they help a lot.
I check the news mid-day, once a day. I don’t spend a lot of time and only visit one or two trusted sites. I never watch TV news. I really can’t stress this enough: limit your news intake!
After my mid-day news update, I do my daily Reiki self treatment.
I visit Facebook two or three times a day. That’s a bit of a mixed blessing. I love the connection with others, and the funny memes provide much needed relief. At the same time, it’s inevitable that I also see pandemic related posts, but I’m getting better at not clicking through unless it’s something from a reputable source that I’m really interested in.
Self care in the evening
I unplug from everything before I make my dinner. My desktop computer gets turned off, my phone put out of reach. After dinner, I usually watch something on Netflix or Prime. Right now, I’m making my way through all ten seasons of Friends*. I loved that show when it ran, and I’d forgotten how funny it was. It’s still making me laugh, and that’s so important right now. Most evenings, Allegra will join me on my lap at least for a few minutes. That’s also the time I miss Ruby the most. She used to be on my lap for the entire evening, each evening.
Thankfully, I have not had any trouble falling asleep once I go to bed. I think exhaustion takes over. The challenge comes in when I wake up an hour or so before I usually get up, and if I’m not careful, my mind will start racing, sending me into a tailspin of panic. I try to head that off by trying to visit one of my happy places in my mind as soon as I wake up at 2 or 3am. Some nights it’s a friend’s weekend house, other night’s, it’s a friend’s beach house. I mentally go through all the steps to get there: loading the car, the drive there, arriving, unpacking the car. Most of the time, I don’t get much beyond getting into the car before I drift off to sleep again.
How are you taking care of yourself during this difficult time?
*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.