It would seem like a no brainer to practice self care during quarantine, but despite having extra time on our hands, on point self-care may be elusive. We may not have the alone time we used to have or have so much alone time that pervasive loneliness or anxiety messes with our minds. We may find ourselves unable to turn our attention to what really has the potential to nourish us.
The burden of stress we all must carry is insidious—from being isolated from friends and family, health fears, financial hardship, lack of control, and overwhelming unknowns—that the weight can be crushing. But there is also something liberating about the times we find ourselves in, in which our experience has been stripped of the sugarcoating of distraction. Now all of us must face our mortality and the fact we never can know for sure what the future brings.
In this direct experience of impermanence there lies the potential for deep nourishment, a solace in the present moment that can no longer be postponed.
Here are four ways to glean the most nourishment from the slower pace that the pandemic has imposed on many of us not directly involved in essential services.
4 Nourishing Self-Care Practices
1. Take your self care up a notch
Self care takes on a different meaning during shelter in place and the new, less restrictive “safer at home” model. Basically, it now means making sure you have quality time—with yourself. Self care looks less like getting a massage, and more like taking a long walk.
But DIY selfcare is no less nurturing than getting pampered by someone else. The need for time alone shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury, but as an essential part of sustainable mental health, especially in a pandemic.
Be intentional about creating spaces throughout the day to recharge and decompress. Even taking a shower or bath can become much warranted ‘me time.” If you have kids, make sure that after they go to bed you dig into something you are particularly passionate about as a way to unwind.
2. Slip into healthy habits
While it’s easier to slip out of healthy habits than into them, for the long haul, staying healthy will give you a leg up during duress. Eating healthy and exercising keeps your immunity robust and your spirit strong.
Of course, being a couch potato and an appreciator of comfort food have their role during a crisis, but eating properly, consistent physical activity and good sleep hygiene should be the rule, not the exception. Without exerting undue pressure on yourself, opt for a degree of mindfulness about how you’re treating yourself and your body.
3. Make meaningful connections
Social media can provide a semblance of connection, and there is an unending of classes and groups choosing to meet online via Zoom, a video conferencing app. But each one of us has a distinct window of tolerance for staring at a computer screen in lieu of face to face connection. Be discerning in how you spend your time online—the classes you take or what you post and what posts you respond to.
If you reach out by phone to call someone, try not to multitask during the call. Practice deep listening skills, to really take in the person you are talking to, and choose your own words with care, so you are not merely repeating your same old story ad infinitum.
If you go the way of Zoom, choose classes or meetings that are important to you, that make you feel alive, rather than as a way to fill up the empty hours. You can also choose to meet a friend or two for a walk and enjoy both the immediacy of contact and the emerging beauty of spring, the kind of twofer that feels medicinal these days.
Finally, solitude can be a powerful way to connect to something bigger, be it nature, your own inner voice, or tuning into the potential of a current threshold you now find yourself in.
4. Lower the bar
For parents trying to navigate their own job with homeschooling their kids, a word of advice. This is going to get messy. Your kids may play more video games and stream more shows than they ever have.
Go easy on yourself. The normal standards of control and perfection no longer apply. We all need to figure out how to get along with the immensity of unknowns, to navigate work with family, school with play. Let go of rigid ideas of how things should look like.
Expect that the unimaginable sets new precedents, normal no longer exists, and that in the quiet, moments of presence, unbidden, may come and find you in the quiet.