What does self-care look like in a pandemic?
Even before the pandemic disrupted our lives, self-care was tough to find time for. For me personally, it was an eye-roll worthy concept. Just getting through the day with two kids and a job was overwhelming enough. Self-care just sounded like another chore on the list.
And then my children were out of the classroom for 390 days. I became a work-from-home employee / mom / teacher. Most days I didn’t have time to shower, let alone find time for “self-care.”
The thing is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re no good at taking care of anyone else. And I think on some level, we all know that. For me, when I’m not taking care of myself (see every day of the last 16 months as examples) I become impatient and irritable and resentful. Which can easily turn into depression.
Defining wellness and self-care
The World Health Organization defines wellness as having five main categories: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial. If you’re doing okay in these categories – and making meaningful contributions at home, work and in your community – then you’re experiencing this definition of wellness.
And when you’re doing activities that support your overall wellness, you’re practicing self-care. Some therapists recommend scheduling self-care to make sure it actually happens.
Here’s an exercise you can do
For the five categories of wellness (physical, emotional, social, spiritual and financial), think of at least 3-5 self-care activities that could support stability within some, or all, of the categories. Write them down. Make sure these are activities that you actually enjoy.
Think of it in Marie Kondo’s terms – if it doesn’t “spark joy,” it shouldn’t be on your self-care list. That doesn’t mean you get to neglect all of your obligations and eat ice cream in bed all day (or at least not very often). But when it comes to your list, you rule it.
Schedule at least three of these self-care activities from this list, every week.
Like, actually put it on your calendar for a certain time on a certain date! Be very specific with the activity that you’re going to do (i.e. take a walk with Sue at 3 p.m. next Saturday), and give yourself enough time to really do it and enjoy it.
Follow through. Don’t ignore or snooze those calendar notifications.
You’re worth it
Do not put yourself and your wellness on the back burner. You are way too important. If the pandemic has taught us any lessons, one is that life can change in an instant, and it’s also precious. Take care of yourself, so that you can be the best version of yourself and be more likely to live the life you want.
So make your list, check it twice, schedule your activities, don’t ignore your calendar notifications for them, and fill up your self-care bucket. When you’re taking good care of yourself you’re better equipped to deal with whatever obstacles come your way. Which hopefully, in my case at least, won’t include remote schooling, ever again.
You’ve got this.