Remember when staying in for the whole weekend in your sweats binge-watching Netflix seemed like an ideal weekend? Turns out when it’s your ONLY option next to flopping around on your floor pretending to do a HIIT workout you found on YouTube, it doesn’t have the same appeal. 2020 dealt the world a weird set of cards and it’s only April. But anyway, deep breaths. Put your wine away (maybe just until 5 p.m. Or 3? TBD). You got this.
The good news about these unprecedented times is that we actually HAVE time. Arguably too much of it, but if we turn that downtime into simple self-care exercises, we can be happier now while also establishing good habits for the future. If you’re struggling to get out of bed or struggling with anxiety or even if you’re not struggling at all, try these six simple self-care practices and see what works best for you.
1. Take bubble baths
I don’t care who you are, don’t underestimate the calming power of a bubble bath. (If you need evidence, watch “The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath” from Friends.) But if you have the time, it’s nice to put some thought into it. Try adding a natural bath bomb or a few drops of your favorite essential oil to level up the luxury. If you’re interested in adding some craft projects to your day-to-day, you can even try making these from home. Put on some relaxing music, maybe grab a glass of wine or a cup of herbal tea, and take three deep breaths. Channel your inner Miranda Priestly and indulge yourself. You deserve it.
I think it’s critical to make sure that you express all the crazy stuff bouncing around your head all day. It’s also important to recognize that if you feel angry or frustrated or anxious, that’s okay. You don’t have to feel bad for having emotions even if you feel more fortunate than others in the current circumstances. Dig out an old journal and at some point in your day, scribble down a list of things that you have negative feelings about, and take a moment to process them. Then flip the page and make a list of everything you feel grateful about right now. It’s all about balance.
3. Set an alarm and hide your phone
One thing that seems very appealing when you have little to no social interaction is social media. While it’s a really great way to feel connected in an isolated time, it can also be the source of a lot of negative self-feelings: insecurity, envy, comparison. I encourage you to take some time each day to play hide and seek with your phone. Set an alarm (maybe an hour or two or more if you feel like you really need it) and put your phone in a place that isn’t easy to get to and is out of sight. Take that time to disconnect and be here and now.
4. Make a weekly plan with daily activities
Every Sunday, whip out your planner and find something simple that you can do each day that you’ll look forward to. Having something to anticipate every day will help to break up the monotony and, if we’re being honest, maybe help to keep track of what day of the week it is when everything starts to blur together. What you decide to do each day is entirely up to you. You could schedule FaceTime dates or happy hours with friends, look at the upcoming weather and plan outdoor activities like a walk or a run, write a letter to a friend (embrace all things analog), bake, etc. Get crazy with it.
5. Make a vision board
A big facilitator of anxiety right now is not knowing when this quarantine/social distancing time will end. With no real end in sight, it’s easy to feel that social distancing is the new normal. Fortunately for us, we have amazing, brilliant human beings working in healthcare (and thank you if you are one of them). And just like everything, this will pass. Having a vision board can give you something positive to focus on. You can fill it with things you want to do in the near future, like learning a new language or a book list you want to tackle (or finally reading that book your sister lent you two summers ago). But you can also focus on things farther out that will serve as reminders of life post-pandemic. Maybe a trip you’ve been wanting to take or a race you want to compete in, whatever makes you look forward to all that the future holds.
6. Try music grounding practices
This one I like to save for the really tough nights, but it’s also a good practice for every day. If you start to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or just out of touch, play a song. Pull out a notebook or notepad and really listen. Close your eyes. Make a list of everything it makes you feel. Then take a deep breath and notice other things you might be feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, or even tasting. Focusing on these things will help to ground you and bring your heart rate down. Do this as often as needed.
With these tools in your back pocket (or the pocket of your favorite baggy sweatpants), you’ll be ready to handle whatever the rest of 2020 throws at you. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and your neighbor—from an appropriate distance, of course. And don’t hoard toilet paper. You’re better than that.