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Self-Care in the Age of Covid

This isn’t one of my typical blog posts where I lecture on the proper use of punctuation or grammar. (I don’t lecture, do I?)

With the holidays swiftly approaching, I feel it is a good time to talk about self-care in the age of Covid. We’ve been told time and time again that isolation is not good for our mental health, yet here we are again — months after lockdown, we are being told by our governors to limit our social interactions, and to forgo Thanksgiving dinner with extended family. Restaurants have banned indoor dining, movie theaters are closed once again, and salons and barber shops have also shut their doors. At least that’s what is happening here in Washington state and in neighboring states like Oregon and California.

Humans are social creatures. We crave community and belonging; we yearn for touch — hugs from family and friends. Since we may have cooties and not know it, and our loved ones may have cooties, we can’t do that. I’m just going to say it . . . This sucks!

Isolation is defined as: socially withdrawn or removed from society. We are social creatures, so it is not in our nature to withdraw from others.

Lucky for us, we are in a digital age where we can talk to our family and friends through Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and by other means. No, it’s not the same as being in the same room with a person; however, if this pandemic had happened in the 1980s, it would have been more isolating than it is now in 2020. To give you some perspective, we had rotary dial phones in the ‘80s, folks. For even more perspective, dial-up internet wasn’t offered commercially until 1992. A pandemic in the 1980s would have sucked way more than it does now.

With that in mind, what are some ways we can take care of our mental wellbeing during this trying time in our lives?

Here are 10 great self-care tips we can put into effect right now:

1. Self-Care Buddy: Accountability is defined as: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. It is really hard for some of us to hold ourselves accountable. We set goals for ourselves, such as working out every morning, going for walks regularly, or eating healthier, and we often fail to meet those goals. Having a partner in crime, so to speak, is a great way to hold you both accountable for each of your intended goals.

2. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts in a journal — whether it’s a spiral notebook, a Microsoft Word document, or a legitimate leather-bound journal — is proven to lead to a better night’s sleep, a higher I.Q., more self-confidence, and even a stronger immune system. It boosts your health because you’re not holding back — you’re releasing all of the negative feelings you’re carrying. They are leaving your head and going somewhere else. Sure, those thoughts are in fact still with you, but they are not pressing in on you from all sides anymore. You will feel lighter and you will breathe easier once you’ve put pen to paper.

3. Take A Drive: If you own a car, take a drive. If you don’t but someone in your household does, ask them to take you for a drive. The walls can start to feel like they’re closing in, so getting out frequently is therapeutic. Keep your eyes on the scenery, even if it’s trash cans and mailboxes. It’s different from what you’ve been looking at for the past week or so. Try playing a game while you’re out driving/riding around: Try to make words out of the very few letters you see on each license plate | Name that tree | What’s that guy thinking? | What breed of dog is that boy walking? | Where is that woman going — the store perhaps? The trick is to focus on what is happening outside the walls of your home — to focus on the good happening around you, even if it’s mundane. It will ground you and help you to breathe easier once you get back home.

4. Take A Walk: In addition to or instead of taking a drive, taking a walk is just as therapeutic to the mind as to the body. It goes without saying that the air is different outside than inside your home, especially since it’s approaching Winter. It still needs to be said, though, as a lot of us are visual thinkers. Envision yourself walking out your front door with your keys in hand and then locking the deadbolt. You saunter down the stairs (I have stairs at home) and see a neighbor from afar so you wave. You continue out to the sidewalk where you see bright red leaves on the path ahead of you. Your foot crunches one as you continue on. You’ve walked a couple of blocks now and you’re not looking at your phone. You’ve been doing that too much lately; it’s time to keep your head up as you walk, taking it all in. Wait a minute! I didn’t know Mrs. Gardener had a fence put up! See what happens when you pay attention. Now, don’t forget to write about that in your journal tonight. 😉