I don’t have to tell you that these are very strange and unsettling times. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or on a desert island in the middle of nowhere like Tom Hanks in Castaway, you’re probably aware that we’re living a totally different lifestyle than we were 6 months ago. For the first time in our lifetime, for many of us, we’ve navigating life through a serious amount of restrictions. Most of the world’s governing bodies are “suggesting” we stay at home, be away from our friends and loved ones, and if we do decide to venture out, wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart. Humans are social creatures, not really meant to go it alone for the long run. It’s no wonder the amount of people experiencing depression and anxiety is on the rise.
Studies have shown that younger people, ages 18-39, are being affected by the pandemic. https://hartfordhealthcare.org/about-us/news-press/news-detail?articleid=26831&publicId=395
Feelings of isolation during quarantine and fear of catching the virus are major concerns that are leading to a spike in depression. The anxiety one experiences from something as mundane as turning the tv can result in a tailspin of reactions. https://www.massgeneral.org/news/coronavirus/depression-on-rise-during-covid-19
Right now, more than ever, engaging in some self care practices can be life saving.
Pre-pandemic, you may have thought of self care as nothing more than massages, facials, manicure, pedicures and visiting the salon; self indulgent practices that only enhanced an instagram profile where every picture seems to say “wow, look how awesome and unrealistic my life is cuz I do these things!”.
In reality though, self care is just that: caring for oneself. This doesn’t have to be extravagant lifestyle choices that drive up your credit card balance (which leads to more stress) or buying a bunch of things that you know you’ll never use. Self care is the concept of taking time for yourself. Getting to know what gives you comfort in times of crisis or stress, and allowing yourself to engage in them, without feeling guilty or selfish.
We all need it. And we all should be doing it. Think of it as learning to become your own support system. That doesn’t mean adapting to the idea that you have to do everything on your own, but giving yourself some space and love to release any negative emotions that are weighing you down and preventing you from feeling contentment.
There are so many different ways to practice self care. I suggest to start creating a small space, that’s not your bed, that is unique to you. I say not your bed because it can lead to excessive sleeping and a feeling of sluggishness. This space, however, can be in your bedroom; let it be anywhere that gives you a feeling of peace.
Now, for a few self care guidelines: self care is intentional, not spontaneous. That doesn’t mean that you might not discover something that brings you peace by accident, it just means that it’s something you’ve planned to do.
“Tomorrow I’m going to ___” or “I need to ___ to unwind.”
It’s also something that isn’t harmful to you or others. So, deciding to have a quiet glass of wine after a tough day is one thing, but drinking two bottles then getting behind the wheel of the car is absolutely not! Also, baking a pan of brownies and telling yourself you’ll have one or two bits every day can be a healthy indulgence but eating the whole pan, plus ice cream in one sitting should probably be avoided ( I may, or may not be speaking from experience). If your need for self care is because you haven’t been expressing yourself constructively then go make some art, play some music or even get up and dance around your house.
The point is, self care is subjective ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skinny-revisited/201805/self-care-101)
and no one can decide what’s best for you, but you. So don’t be fearful of asking yourself wha you need and exploring what works in your heart. Because at the end of the day, that’s where it all comes from. If you’re not sure where to start, click the link to get some great ideas.