Self-Care Strategies for Quarantine Times
This is a blog post I never thought I would write. However, desperate times, desperate measures, etc... With the current COVID-19 crisis, most of us are safer at home right now, telecommuting, teaching online lesson plans to our children, or if you are like me just waiting things out, because your job can't be done remotely. We all handle and process stress differently and I know right now I've talked with plenty of friends, family members, and patients who have expressed experiencing anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, grief, boredom, despair, just about any and every emotion that a person could feel right now. These are all normal responses to not-normal times. The most important thing I can say to you is to just be kind to yourself and accept how you are processing everything.
Self-care plays a huge role right now when we are trying to be kind to ourselves, because we can't just go out and treat ourselves to a massage, or acupuncture, or dancing with our friends. We have to make time and space for little things in our day that really care for and nourish us. And what that will look like will be different for everyone, but here are some ideas:
Exercise! A short local walk, run, or bike ride is a great idea. Or a virtual fitness class where your options are seemingly unlimited these days. Many are even free! I've been loving Dance Church, a live streamed free-form dance class (or dance party?) out of Los Angeles on Wednesdays and Sundays, where their mantra is "Say yes to your choices."
Foam rolling FTW! The foam roller that I told you to buy a year ago and has been gathering dust in the corner of your bedroom ever since? Please use it! You can use it to release tension, massage sore muscles, or even as a tool for body weight exercises.
Stand! Get up and move every hour or half hour. Stand up, stretch, walk around the house. Maybe do a sun salutation or hold a plank pose for a minute.
Take a bath! Epsom salts are a wonderful addition to a bath. The magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and also helps soothe mental tension and promote restful sleep. I like to add 1 - 2 cups of epsom salts to a warm bath in the evening. Lavender essential oil is a nice touch too!
Do some acupressure! Sure, you can't get your regular acupuncture treatment, but if you would like to continue your care at home please reach out to me and I will craft an acupressure routine for you to do at home to address your most pressing concerns free of charge. Or keep your eyes peeled here on the blog for acupressure video tutorials for common issues like stress, sleep, immune system boosting, and pain management.
Learn something new! Boredom is not fun. And when you aren't mentally stimulated, it can be easy to let anxious or fearful thoughts take over. If you find yourself with more free time on your hands, why not take the opportunity to learn? You could devote some time to online professional development courses or self study. Or practice some new language skills for when we can all finally start travelling again. If you are interested in art, MOMA is offering several classes on modern art for free through Coursera. Or you could support a couple of amazing women whose small business The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic offers interactive online courses deep diving into folklore. They have a new course about Finding Enchantment Under Quarantine which looks wonderful.
Meditate! This is one of the best practices for your mind even under normal circumstances. But especially now it is the perfect time to start, or restart, a meditation practice. This can be as simple as finding a quiet place in your home to be still and breathe deeply, or you could get some help with guided meditations. There are plenty of online resources and apps to help you learn how to meditate, with one of my favorites being Headspace. They are offering a handful of free guided meditations and soundscapes to help with sleep for New Yorkers right now.
Get creative! Draw, paint, craft, journal, vision board, write poetry, or go to town on your coloring books. Pick up your old instrument and play or try to learn a new one. Making the most of creative outlets has probably been my most needed self-care strategy over the past few weeks. I've always loved to sketch and paint, but it has become a lifeline for me when I'm feeling anxious or depressed.
Connect with loved ones! I like to check in with at least one person each day, but usually it is several texts, phone calls, or video chats with friends and family members. The family group texts are epic at this point. You can use Zoom or Google Hangouts to video chat with friends while drinking a glass of well deserved wine.
Appreciate natural beauty! While you are getting outside for some fresh air and exercise, pause to take in the beauty around you. Our lives may have paused, but nature has not. Everything is in bloom right now and taking some time to contemplate the beauty of the world around you, even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, can be healing in itself.
Hopefully these ideas will be helpful to you during this time, even as a jumping off point to find your own ways of caring for yourself. Again, please be kind and accept wherever you are at with processing what is going on in your life right now. And if you aren't feeling productive or motivated to start learning the guitar, or to meditate three times a day, or to cook wholesome and fabulous multi-course meals from scratch - that is ok. Don't feel guilty that you are somehow "not making the most of your time". I appreciate this take from author R.O. Kwon about how she finally identified that her inability to perform at 110% in quarantine, which she had felt so guilty for, was because she was grieving. Sometimes just accepting that you are still processing your feelings is the best form of self-care there is.