Self-care seems like a benign activity that we all participate in every day. But when we’re stressed or under pressure self-care tends to take a back seat. The neglect starts small and soon finds us in a state of depression, a high level of anxiety, or even isolation.
Having a conscious active involvement in our own self-care prepares us for those stressful moments that we don’t see coming. And if we haven’t cultivated healthy self-care, navigating through moments like these are going to be tough.
Today we all find ourselves in a heightened level of anxiety and isolation not of our own choosing which makes self-care more difficult than ever. And the stress of this social distancing and self-quarantining is adding pressure to our already diminished self-care discipline.
So now we need to get creative. This is going to require us to be disciplined. If you didn’t already have a disciplined self-care lifestyle in place, you have an advantage of time and opportunity to start one. It may be difficult and maybe even boring in the beginning. But finding the discipline to stay on track and keep doing the things that are good for you even when you don’t feel like it will serve you well after this health crisis is over. We can continue to make excuses and neglect taking better care of ourselves because many of us are stuck, literally, with no idea of what self-care really looks like.
So, what is self-care? It can be different for everyone, but I think it is more about an overall sense of well-being that you incorporate into your everyday life. Those wellness practices that will prop up your spiritual, mental, and physical health and become ingrained into who you are. For me it is daily exercise of multiple disciplines, mindfulness of how I nourish my body which includes lots of water and a variety of fresh plant foods, a spiritual practice through yoga, prayer and meditation, mental agility through reading and writing as well as game playing, and personal relationship health through consistent communication with friends and loved ones (especially my husband), emotionally uplifting activities like helping others, loving on my pets, and finding serenity. That is just an overview and within those practices are smaller self-care steps that help make them consistent and enjoyable.
Yet we are told something completely different from social and mainstream media. Self-care is so often regarded as an indulgence rather than something we deserve to give our full attention to on a regular basis. Women seem to be the biggest target of the self-care industry. We are bombarded with ads that tell us to indulge in expensive beauty products, luxurious vacations, bed linens, and spa days. But many of us barely dip our foot into any of these ideas because we are too busy taking care of everyone else. And we may even feel a tinge of jealousy toward those who are taking advantage of them. When we have more down time, we spend it on social media, watching TV, and possibly viewing a lot of QVC which just exacerbates the problem.
But self-care is not an indulgence. It is a lifestyle that needs the mindset of understanding your priorities and a deep respect for who you are. Those other “luxurious” activities are wonderful and can be planned for on a regular basis and incorporated into your life, but they are not self-care.
How do we continue to keep the self-care practices we had pre-Coronavirus or implement new ones in this new environment? We are living in a world where our freedom to move around with ease has been stifled, so we need to shift our thinking to continue to honor ourselves. For me, I had to adjust my workout plan to only body weight exercises and more walks and less running, my yoga studio closed so I am now teaching online, and I modified my spiritual practice as my husband and I practice this together. Since we are now home together, all day, we take time away from each other just to keep from killing each other. Did I mention that we started a kitchen remodel before this Coronavirus started? We gotta see it through!
So, some advice to get you started on a self-care lifestyle:
- Drink more water (half your weight in ounces)
- Move more. I have a friend who sets her clock 3 times a day to get up and walk 10 times around her house.
- Meditate and pray. Find some YouTube videos or even an APP to walk you through it. Science shows that calming your mind and spirit has huge benefits to lowering anxiety, stress, and blood pressure.
- Limit your time on social and mainstream media. I know you are tempted to binge watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, but this is counterintuitive to self-care. Pick up a book and set a goal to read at least a chapter a day.
- Stay connected to important relationships. I have set aside every Sunday to get together with family through ZOOM meetings. It has been such a joy so be able to interact with them and see their faces.
Once the quarantines have been lifted you will have set yourself up for a dedicated self-care lifestyle that can be expanded to fit your individual
Take care of yourself now so that once the quarantine is lifted you will have set the foundation for a future of unimpeded self-care.