Caring for ourselves is not selfish! Rather, it is needed and incredibly valuable. And, caring for ourselves will allow us to love ourselves– and others– well. Let’s take good care of our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls. Here are some ideas to practice caring for ourselves. The key here is to make sure these things are accessible to you now. You may need to adjust the ideas to fit your needs/wants/space/time/location, etc– and that’s creative of you and great. This resource page will be a reference point for you at anytime. Choose 1 today, and try. You are warmly welcomed and encouraged to come back whenever you feel up to it:
Note: External resources at the bottom of this page
- Exercise. Go for a walk or creatively do a rigorous workout inside or around your neighborhood. Have your kids run in a safe, open space (and have them do this every time they are bored or antsy). Or, try 20 jumping jacks right now, yourself and/or with the kids! Numerous studies point to the benefit of physical activity for body, mind, and soul. Getting oxygen to the brain can do wonders.
- Eat healthfully. Fuel your body with healthy things. Get some ready-made whole snacks (or grab a handful of nuts or baby carrots) to make things easy when you notice you’re hungry. (There IS a connection between the foods that we eat and our corresponding moods. )
- Slow down. Pause. Breathe. Take 5 big, deep breaths– and pay attention to air flowing out of your mouth on the exhale. Neuroscience fact: Attending to your breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the “calming part” of your nervous system.
- Simplify. Unload what is not essential. Think about your life in buckets. If there are any buckets in your life that are crowding or overwhelming your day– and those things do not need to be there or get done now–choose to unload that bucket. Life can sure rub against many of our limits. Truth: We are not limitless people. Give yourself permission to focus on what you and your family need.
- Practice self-compassion. Practice extending compassion to others, as well as to yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are working so hard, and making the decisions you think are best with the information you have.
- Engage when isolated or alone. When you’re feeling isolated, acknowledge the isolation and choose to engage. It will probably look different than how you would engage in the past. Tolerate the discomfort and reach out.
- Grieve. You might be experiencing a lot of loss. It’s okay to feel sad and wish things were different.
- Take time to appreciate. Schedule a time with another person to appreciate each other. If you live by yourself, this is a great excuse for a scheduled phone call or a social distanced outside gathering. If you live with a housemate, partner or your family, still set aside time to discuss 3 things you appreciate/like about the other(s). A creative adjustment to this exercise might be to do this as charades, as a skit, or by drawing. The more creative (and potentially funny), the better. The most important thing with all these tips is to adjust them to make them work for you.
- Mediate your news consumption. Put a limit on the medium and/or amount of news coverage you take in.
- Try reframing. Expect this season to be a season of grace and openness and flexibility– toward others as well as toward yourself.
- Engage with people who are encouraging and positive. Calm begets calm, anxiety begets anxiety.
- Acknowledge pain: Acknowledging and naming pain when it happens can be healing; the negative feelings’ debilitating power seems to lose its grip over us when we have the courage to share. (Even though it’s usually highly uncomfortable to feel these ways, and it’s countercultural to share vulnerable feelings!). But, it is okay–and normal and healthy–to feel what you feel. All of our feelings are valid, and all of our feelings tell us something. Sometimes circumstances make us feel angry, hopeless, disappointed, fearful, anxious, alone, etc. It takes a lot of courage, but I’ve experienced that naming whatever you’re feeling can help bring healing.
- Laugh! There is power in laughing.
- Meet intentionally. Set aside a time every week to talk with your partner or a close friend about your wants and needs, and be open to reorganizing things to better meet your needs.
- Listen to music (especially from a season in your life that you remember with peace and fondness). What do you notice when you even think of music from a happy season in your life?
- Create a routine in your day and your week. You don’t need to make it detailed and you also don’t need to follow it to a T– but most humans feel more at peace with rhythms. Try!
- Exercise the imagination. There is literal power and benefits in imagining. Imagine that! 🙂
- Lament. Acknowledge that things are not as they should be. It’s okay and healthy to honestly name how you’re feeling and wish it were different.
Though this list is not exhaustive, it might be overwhelming. Never fear. Be encouraged. It’s all about baby steps. Choose 1 and try to implement it. If you realize you don’t like that thing or that thing is not working for you in this moment, no prob. Try something else. Be gracious to yourself.
When in doubt, ask yourself, what do I need in this moment? And, t-r-y to do it!
- Checking in with Susan David: Regular podcast from a Harvard psychologist specifically about emotions related to the pandemic
- this blog!– I have a category of wellness tips/self-care posts. A mix of blog posts and video posts. Let’s practice taking care of all parts of ourselves, together.
- Connect with people on Instagram and social media who you feel are encouraging and helpful.
- Depression video on You Tube: learn about depression
- Seek professional therapy. I have seen therapy bring great healing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you decide that you need or want extra support. Psychology Today is the online hub where you can find a therapist in your area. As you may know, I am also a LMFT. Please check out my “ Therapy with me” tab on this site or my individual Psychology Today profile, if you’d like to see if I might be a good fit for you.
- Calm app on the phone
- Please feel free to comment on this page for more ideas or resources!
May you be filled with peace, with courage, with strength, and with hope.
Feature Image: Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash