How do we take care of ourselves when we are quarantined at home, social distancing or limiting outside contact? Especially when a lot of activities normally on my list for self care aren’t options for now. I have to say I have had some dark days emotionally these last weeks. I have felt overwhelming sadness, depression, loneliness, hopelessness and fear upon fear upon fear. My normal options when I need an emotional boost of meeting a friend for drinks and dinner, going to get a manicure, browsing in TJ Maxx Homegoods, or getting a massage are not possible in this changing landscape of staying home and social distancing. I do NOT want this to look like me telling you what you need to do. There are so many out there shaming others for what they are doing, not doing or are feeling. I do not want to add to that. I wanted to give you some practical tips on how I am coping and things I am trying for me:
* I usually let my dog out on his own to go to the bathroom but now I am putting him on the leash and going to do a lap outside. He needs it and I do too!
* After gathering the latest news, I have to TURN OFF the TV. It is so tempting to keep listening and watching but it does affect my mood. It helps to turn it off and turn on some music….especially something uplifting.
* Although I had a whole argument (because buying anything non-essential at this time feels wrong on some level) with myself at the grocery, I did end up buying flowers. They truly help me a ton!!
* Light a candle. It is so simple but it truly brightens my mood. Especially on all these gray days we have had in Nashville as of late.
* Take a bath with Epsom Salts. Free, you can do at home by yourself….or not….winky face….but helps with stress relief and the Epsom salts pull out toxins. All kinds of health benefits!
* I can’t stress this enough….IF YOU ARE ON ANY KIND OF MEDICATION FOR ANXIETY AND/OR DEPRESSION-GET THEM REFILLED!!! This is not the time to run out of your meds. Also be sure you are taking them as directed.
* Reach out to your friends. I am texting and calling my friends regularly. Surprisingly, even a short exchange helps me feel less alone and encouraged. Even if I don’t feel differently, when my friends tell me how they loved hearing from me, it lifts my mood instantly.
* Get up every day. Bathe. Get dressed. I don’t usually but I have been making my bed daily. It instantly makes me feel more accomplished. Have some regular routines. You will feel better.
* Keep your personal space picked up and chaos-free. This one is tough because if you are like me, you have more people home every day leaving their shoes, cups, clothes and toiletries strewn all about. We are making so many more meals at home, so the kitchen may never feel clean again. It helps me for my immediate space to look non-cluttered. I think our physical space affects how our inner space feels.
* Get some things done. I am almost “excited” to get some things done around the house that I would not have been able to do because I would have been chasing an 11 year old around town who was supposed to be playing 2 travel sports this spring. I plan to organize closets, change light bulbs, go through clothes we no longer wear, etc. Nothing that costs money because I am petrified to spend money on anything non-essential given I am self-employed and there are so many financial unknowns right now.
* Break rules with yourself and your kids (if you have them). Let everyone in your house, including the animals get away with more. What I mean by this is it is NOT the time to have unrealistic expectations for yourself and your family that will cause you shame when you don’t meet them. It is the time for kindness. Gentleness. Grace. Grace for yourself and grace for others. If your kids need 10 hours of screen time for everyone to survive a day, you can auto-correct at a different time.
* BREATHE!!! It may seem too simple but when we get stressed one of the first things we stop is breathing. So take a deep breath. As my yoga instructor Kate Moyer always tells me, “breathe in positive, breathe in resources you need and breathe out stressors, anxiety, toxins, and things you have “picked up emotionally” that aren’t yours to carry. Breathe in. Breathe out.
This is not a check list. I know how many of you love a list. It helps you feel in control. Like if you check every item- it will guarantee a positive outcome. That is NOT what this list is for. These are just some personal things I am trying in this changing time. You will also notice I didn’t include anything about what you are eating, drinking, or exercise. Though all are important, I know how often we use these things to shame and harm ourselves. So to all of this I say….Do your best and let the rest go. We are going to be OK!