4 ways to practice self-care during a pandemic
I’m just going to be blunt. Your self-care is severely lacking.
This is no time to forget about yourself:
If you aren’t taking the time to take care of yourself during this quarantine, everyone knows. Like, everyone. (Mainly your family because they’re the only ones who see you…but trust me, they know).
It’s obvious in how you’re reacting to things, how you can’t relax enough to fall asleep at night, and in your overall mood. Are you grumpy, feeling down for no reason, want to flip tables in unwarranted rage, or feel like you’ll cry at the drop of a hat? All the above, all at the same time?
You, my friend, need some overdue self-care.
When to fit in self-care
Let me backtrack a bit…self-care is important all the time.
But our separate lives—work, home, school—are all tossed together right now like a smoothie made with kale, edamame, banana, berry, flaxseed (I know this is a weird metaphor, but stick with me, it’ll make sense in a minute).
Life may be the most stressful it’s ever been for you right now. Or maybe not but you’re still feeling all these feelings. Either way, you’re likely living in a situation where your worlds have been merged together and even after all this time, it still feels weird. Like the smoothie I mentioned.
That smoothie is delicious though. Each ingredient provides vital nutrients that your body needs, much like each aspect of your life makes your world go round. Mixing a bunch of things that don’t seem like they belong together can work. (Is it coming together yet?) You can make your collided worlds a well-oiled machine.
But you need to take care of yourself. Do you see my point?
This week I want to give a shout out to a few of my favorite self-care practices out there. My hope is that by the end, you’ll find something on the list that makes you think, “yes, I need to do more of that”.
If you are feeling like you struggle for motivation for self-care, make sure to read more on how motivation is crap. Wink, wink.
Move your body
Establishing an exercise routine is one of the top ways to show your body you love it. There’s going to be days that a hardcore workout feels more like a punishment than care, despite knowing that you’ll feel good about it later. It can be difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that exercise itself is a form of self-care when all we want to do is sit on the couch.
The trick to making exercise feel like self-care is moving your body in ways you actually enjoy.
Go for a run
As many of you know, I love to run. Running makes me feel alive, reduces my stress, and boosts my mood. Even on days I don’t feel like running, I’m always glad I did once I’ve finished. I live in rural Iowa, which may lead some to think there’s no place to run. It’s a bit dusty on gravel, but man, getting outside and running freely in the wide-open does something to my soul. I posted my first video on IGTV last week where I talk about this very thing. Check it out here.
If you’re a runner like me and would be signing up for a spring 5k if it were any other year, don’t let this COVID-19 hold you back! Sign up for a virtual 5k, like the runDisney series that I might look into more. I’ve always thought it would be fun for our family to fly down to Disney and participate in one of their big charity runs. I’m just not sure about running in the Florida elements – Iowa climate might suit me better. Regardless, any virtual run will look a little different but it’s still a way to push yourself and indulge in a little “me” time.
Walk it out
I get that not everyone likes to run. But a walk around your property, the block, or even around your living room (no excuses, sister!) is as beneficial in self-care movement. Especially when the weather is perfect and you have beautiful scenery to take in.
A lot of virtual 5k’s have options for walking a mile, too, so consider signing up for one to hold yourself accountable this spring!
Get on the mat
Okay, okay…so I’m finally caving on this yoga thing. I have a friend who swears by the benefits of yoga and I may finally be getting what she’s talking about.
Yoga is a way to not only move your body but reconnect with your breath. How many of you have caught yourself holding your breath when you’re feeling emotional and stressed out? It’s our body’s natural tendency to tense up but yoga can help you push past your human tendency to fight or flight. Plus, stretching out muscles you didn’t even know were tight feels amazing!
My kiddos love Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube and it’s really quite adorable to watch them do it. Reagan even made her own yoga video – it was epic, aside from the fact that she’s so short that where she placed her tablet to record for “her channel”, the video didn’t capture her from the neck down. When she went into Downward Dog, you couldn’t even see Reagie anymore—it was only her little voice on the video.
It was one of those moments where you can’t help but laugh at the cuteness! Plus I’m happy that my girls are learning the importance of practicing self-care by moving their bodies!
Be at one with nature
Have you wondered what this quarantine business would be like if we weren’t able to get outside? I would go nuts!
If you’re outdoorsy, catch some time for yourself by going kayaking, hiking, or camping. Most state parks and nature reserves have remained open, as well as some campgrounds, but be sure to check before you head out to one.
Self-care comes in all shapes, especially if it’s being outdoors that lifts your spirit. It may not even be “alone” time. If you love sports and playing with your kids, pump up the basketball, and have a family pick-up game in the driveway. Or kick a soccer ball around. Family relay races are a fun way to incorporate a little friendly competition, too—for some, competition is a form of self-care. There’s no ONE way to take care of ourselves, right?
Do something that you love
Humans are a funny species. I say that because we put so much emphasis on the things we’re “supposed” to do and push aside the things we love to do. It’s silly when you think about it. It sounds so obvious, but what better way to care for yourself than by engaging in activities you love.
Since I’m a farm girl through and through, I live and breathe farm life. 4-H and fairs are in limbo right now, but we still have our fair animals! I find walking around the farm or yard with one of our animals to be one of my favorite ways to unwind and decompress.
Connecting with animals, even if you don’t live on a farm or have large breed species, can be a sense of comfort. Sit quietly with your cat. Or spend some time outdoors playing catch with your dog. Our animals have a way of being there for us in ways that some humans can’t.
Each morning, I continue to practice the Mel Robbins Take 5 in the shower. I figure it may be the only “alone” time I get in the day, so better start off on the right foot!
Meditation is not for everyone and is actually hard to do. But it’s definitely worth a try. It doesn’t have to be that cross-legged position where you chant “ohmmmmm” over and over either. I personally don’t get how that’s relaxing and I can’t seem to shut my brain up to appreciate the silence.
Rather, I practice belly breathing. Instead of filling your chest with air, you fill your stomach – hold for several seconds and slowly countdown to release your breaths. Between my shoulders is where I tend to hold a lot of my stress. This helps release the tension in those areas and can instantly boost your mood. When the girls get worked up over something, I’ve taught them the same trick to calm their bodies down.
I also find sitting quietly with my eyes closed, even for 5 minutes, to be beneficial. It gives the body a chance to slow down, re-energize, and is the ultimate form of self-care. PositivePsychology.com says that regular meditation stabilizes our stress levels, which decreases our cortisol levels (that hormone that causes our urge to fight or flight) and improves our clarity. Worth a try for a little self-care for the ol’ mental state, eh?
So, please, take care of yourself. Your family needs you. You need you.
Sometimes trying something new that we’d normally put our nose up to will open our eyes to a whole new level of feeling good. When we feel good about ourselves and what we’re doing, we’re doing well in the self-care department!
Consider this my friendly reminder to take care of yourself during this crazy time. Our once separate pieces of ourselves are now so intermixed that it can be hard to think clearly. Over time, that jumble of activity is overstimulating and it can feel as if there’s even less time to show ourselves a little love.
But we need self-care. We need to make the time. Because if we don’t, we end up lashing out at the ones we love.