Self-care when you are social distancing and therefore stuck in your home….it isn’t easy, is it? It also isn’t easy to decide that you need to take care of yourself. But I am here to tell you, pal, that taking care of you is PARAMOUNT right now. I have always said that self-care is not SELFISH, it is SELF-FUL. And we can behave in a self-ful way, we are able to show up for the people in our life.
I know that for many, that feels inaccurate. We think that we need to focus our energy on taking care of the people in our family-kids, spouses, elderly parents or grandparents. We have to make sure that they are all okay. That neighbor down the street that you know cannot find baby wipes anywhere, you want to help. Your kids are home from school and do not do well when they do not have structure, you want to create that for them. Your elderly mother who is afraid to go to the store for basic things because of the madness that she sees on the news, you want to make sure that she is set. I get it, I really do. I want to do those things for my family, too. But there is truth in the idea that you can more effectively and easily be a support to the people in your life if you are doing the same for yourself first.
It isn’t easy. There are a lot of feels right now. I am experiencing it, too. I am a therapist and I am seeing clients as they navigate through this. I am also the Clinical Director at my facility, so I am supervising clinicians who are seeing clients as they navigate through this and supporting those same clinician as they navigate through this. I am holding a lot for a lot of people. There are moments where I have this overwhelming feeling that I can only equate to feeling like my arms are piled high with boxes and I need to find my keys but there is no where to put the boxes down, so I am just trying to juggle all of these boxes while looking for my keys in my bottomless purse. Did that paint a picture for you? Do you know that feeling, too?
The only way that I am surviving it is that I am taking care of myself every single day so that I can show up for the people I am trying to support.
Here is what I am doing:
Every day, I get up and shower. Even if I have no where to go. I get ready. Even if I have no where to go. I don’t put on a full face of make up like I am hitting the town, but I do put on lotion and mascara and lip gloss. For some, staying in their comfies all day is a dream. For me, that is not effective. I just don’t feel my best, so getting ready every day is helpful to me.
Every day, I spend time outside. I live in Arizona, and the springtime is just beautiful. Being outside is good for my soul. I either make time for a run in the morning, take a walk around my office complex in between clients, or take my lunch on the patio at work. Every single day.
I am drinking water. It would be easy to not right now. I am scheduled pretty tightly with clients and, to be honest, having to pee every hour is pretty inconvenient, but being hydrated makes me feel SO much better. I still have my morning coffee, it helps me feel grounded, but after that I am pretty much chugging water all day long.
I am meditating and using deep breathing exercises. Before I open the lobby door to get each client, I take three deep breaths. Every time. I am meditating for 5 minutes at the end of my day in an effort to not bring feels home with me that don’t actually belong to me. I have plenty of my own.
I am stretching my body. Chinese medicine postulates that health is greatly impacted by the circulation of blood and that physical movement. Generally, I spend a lot of my day sitting. I try to get a workout in each day if I can, but either way, I make sure to do a few stretches between clients and also at the end of the day. Yoga has similar positive effects, but I personally go back and forth with Yoga. I have phases where I am all about it and phases were it is the last thing I want to do. Right now, I am in a no-yoga for me phase, so stretching is my go-to. I stretch my hamstrings, quads, thoracic spine and neck and shoulders. I cannot even express how much my mood is improved, just by doing a few quick stretches a couple of times a day.
I am staying connected with my people. It is all virtual, don’t worry, but I am making sure that I am checking in, for their sake and mine. Even if all that I am talking about is sending weird memes about corona virus to my friends and family, I am trying to stay connected so that this does not feel quite as lonely.
Self-care does not have to be this big thing. In fact, I actually think that self-care happens more in small ways. It is simply found in how we nurture our relationship with ourselves and we are in a time where all of our relationships need nurturing-and I encourage you to start with you. Stay safe out there, my friends. Wash your hands and keep your distance.