I feel like I have seen dozens of posts like this go up on the past week, so was hesitant to create my own. However, something about several of the blog posts I’ve read regarding self-care over this quarantine don’t sound like self-care to me. They sound like work. They sound overwhelming.
So I wanted to write a little something to you, a person who, like me, is probably feeling overwhelmed right now. And what I want to convey is this: Don’t take on 15 new ‘self-care’, ‘make your life better’ tasks during this time. Your life doesn’t need more complexity, stress, or expectations right now. Most of us are working from home, newly unemployed, worried about family members’ and friends’ health, and worried about our own health. Taking on a new, demanding schedule of working out and meditation and every stereotypical wellness tip will not reduce your anxiety, though it may distract you from it.
Below you aren’t going to find a ‘to-do’ list or a 10-step action plan toward easing your anxieties, because I don’t know what [that] means for you. You deserve a rubric that is dynamic and customized for yourself, and who knows you better than you?
What I suggest is something simpler, like giving yourself a soft place to land or filling your home with a calming scent. Don’t start a new habit, rediscover an old one. Journal, get introspective and ask yourself when you felt peaceful in the past. Use the past to inform your future and commodity forgotten hobbies into current comforts.
“Once stress escalates, it becomes tougher to let it go.”
Tamar Chansky, anxiety expert & clinical psychologist
Caring for yourself, fully, takes more than a bubble bath and a yoga class. It takes boundaries. Working from home can create a grey area between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’. As someone who worked from home for over a year and a half, I can tell you that it’s easy to skip your lunch break and work through, or to work past COB. When your cell phone becomes your work phone it can be like carrying your desk in your pocket. Set boundaries with yourself and within your professional relationships. Learn to say ‘no’, learn to love your limits. During this time of pandemic and cortisol-increasing media, it’s important to respect your limitations. Now is not the time to see how fast and how far you can push yourself. Just as important as teaching yourself to work, use this time to teach yourself to rest.
Slow down and try to embrace the ebbs and flows of life confined to your home space. I’m working on accepting the fact that my kitchen will never be fully at rest, but rather always in flux during this time. Because caring for and loving on myself looks like playing, fermenting, and baking in the kitchen. It looks like waking up a little earlier than the rest of the home to sit quietly in the sun, with no obligation. Find your tiny moment, forgotten past time, or pick one new project during this time to be your space to prioritize yourself.
And, above all, be gentle with yourself because you are doing the best that you can.