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 a year ago. For the first time in our lifetime, for many of us, we’re 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. 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 on the tv can result in a tailspin of reactions.

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. Theses self indulgent practices seem to only enhanced an Instagram profile where every picture says “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, in turn, lead to more stress. It’s also not about buying a bunch of things you know you’ll never use.

Self care is the concept of taking time for yourself.

Get to know what gives you comfort in times of crisis or stress. Furthermore, allow 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 how to become your own support system. It doesn’t mean adapting to the idea that you have to do everything on your own. Give yourself some space and love to release any negative emotions that are weighing you down. Give yourself that feeling of contentment.

There are so many different ways to practice self care.

Here’s a suggestion: start by 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.

A few self care guidelines.

Self care is intentional, not spontaneous. By intentional, I mean it’s something you’ve taken the time to plan. Of course it’s possible that you’ll discover something that brings you a feeling of peace, completely by accident, but the point is to know what you’re going to do, for the sake of doing it.

“Tomorrow I’m going to ___”

or

“I need to ___ to unwind.”

Be kind to yourself.

Self care is also something that isn’t harmful to you or others. So, deciding to have a quiet glass of wine after a tough day is fine, 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 considered 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. No one can decide what’s best for you, but you. So don’t be fearful of asking yourself what you need and explore 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.