Each of us is coping with this new normal in our own way. Some of us may be feeling like we have found a rhythm and routine, others may be in survival mode. Most of us are probably still cycling through the different stages of grief, able to accept the restrictions one day, raging against the unfairness and anxiety the next. For parents and educators, we tend to focus on the children, and that is important, but this is a situation to remember to “apply your own oxygen mask first.”
Self-care can be as tough as it is crucial in these circumstances, and it’s absolutely going to look different for each and every one of us. For all of us, it will look different than it did two months ago. Here are some suggestions and resources to help you tend to self-care during the stay at home order.
- Stay active. Even a little goes a long way and it’s ok if you’re unable to stick to your old routine or you can’t bring yourself to go for a run every day. Find something that works for you, that gets your body moving and helps get rid of some of those stress hormones. Revisit a favorite exercise video, find a great Youtube channel, have a dance party, or simply get out and walk.
- Get outside. We’re coming off of a long Maine winter into a very stressful situation. Luckily hiking and fishing are considered essential activities even during the stay at home order. Check out some local trails or dig out the fishing equipment. You don’t even need to have a fishing license during the month of April. Make sure you follow all safety and social distancing recommendations and go soak up some vitamin D.
- Maintain healthy habits. As tempting as it can be to skip that shower for another day since you don’t have to leave the house, try to keep up on basic hygiene, eat as healthy as you can, and keep washing those hands.
- Connect with people any way you can – over the phone, Facetime, Zoom or the video chat application of your choice. Some people are actually finding they spend more time talking to family members who live in other parts of the country and world. You can also write letters and send cards. Consider dropping an extra card in the mail for residents of your local nursing home.
- Keep to a schedule that works for you, and don’t be afraid to change it up. The groove you were in last week can feel like a rut this week. One schedule might not cut it for the duration of this thing, but attempting to give a rhythm to your days can reduce a lot of stress. Make sure you build in enough time for adequate sleep.
- Take advantage of all the free online resources that have opened up. Take a virtual tour, tap into a zoo webcam, take in an online concert, or learn a new skill – whatever you find most relaxing. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list to check out.
- Remember to take tech breaks. While technology is a much-needed tool right now, it’s also way too easy to get sucked into scrolling your social media feed or reading article after article on the pandemic. Give yourself a break from the constant stream of information. Play a board game, read a book, or build a blanket fort.
- Bake. We’re starting to be able to find flour and yeast again! The smell of fresh cookies is super comforting and kneading bread dough is very therapeutic during stressful situations. You might also be able to fend off a trip to the grocery store for a bit longer.
- Turn to music. Listen to the kind of music that makes you happy. You can even take it to the next level. Pick up that old guitar you’ve been meaning to practice, or simply learn all the words to your new favorite song and belt it at the top of your lungs.
- Write it all out. Journal your experiences to look back on, vent about how much your partner drives you crazy in quarantine, or write some delightful fiction where you get to control every plot twist.
- Keep a gratitude jar or a post-coronavirus activity list. Every time we come up with something we can’t do right now, we write it on a piece of paper and add it to a jar. When the restrictions lift, we have a ready-made list of things we want to do, and it will also remind us not to take them for granted. We’ve also been adding the things we are enjoying during quarantine, (puzzles and podcasts, board games, Zoom meetings with family across the country) so we remember to keep doing them when the pace of life picks up again.
- Try a little art therapy. This is a good one for parents and kids. I think all of us are struggling to find words for our current situation, drawing it out can be a great way to process. You can also use clay, make jewelry, or just color with your kids. If you’ve got the supplies or can order them, tap into an online paint night or start one with friends.
- Immerse yourself in a book, movie, or show that allows you to forget about the stress and chaos for a bit. We need a mental break from time to time.
- Meditate. Or at least slow down and take a few deep breaths a few times a day. If you want to take it further, here’s a list of great apps for kids and parents.
- Remember you aren’t alone and don’t be afraid to reach out. Our counselors and social workers are still here for you, as are our school nurses, teachers, support staff and administrators. Do not hesitate to contact us.
Self-care is never a one size fits all solution. Everyone deals with stress in different ways. Think about the activities that make you feel more happy and centered. It’s important to find strategies that are realistic and work for you.
Here are a few more resources to help you flesh out your personal self-care menu:
Mandi Favreau, RSU 18 Communication Coordinator