When the world becomes unfamiliar… How do you take care of yourself?

2020, what a long year it has been so far and we still have months left of it to go. We do not know what lies ahead, we do not know how long we will need to live with social distancing and other restrictions to who we can spend our time with, how we can spend our time or where we can go to experience the world around us. Will social distancing be our new normal? I mean, what was pre-COVID-19 life like anyway right? I suspect in years to come, we will speak with others living through COVID-19 now about “those were the days…” and sharing stories with our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren about life pre- and during COVID-19, reminiscing over the good times, and reflecting on the challenging ones.

It almost seems that COVID-19 came upon us, came upon the world so quickly that we really did not have a lot of time to prepare ourselves, our children, and our communities for the very significant changes to our everyday. We were thrust into the unknown at full speed with no stop button. Managing the unknown, coping with change when there is no time to prepare, hearing and reading news stories everyday sharing information about this COVID-19 virus spreading quickly all over the world and in many cases people are dying from it, and managing our own thoughts and feelings about the current situation we each find ourselves and those we love, and even those we don’t even know, are just some of the things that has been foreign to me prior to March this year. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived through changes in plans, having to do things with little to no preparation, hearing and reading concerning news stories including life-ending situations, but none of my past experiences could have prepared me for COVID-19.

One of the things that generally is the first to go when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar and stressful situation is doing things to take care of ourselves. When I say “take care of ourselves” I don’t mean just making sure we bathe or shower, we feed ourselves the most basic food and water, clothe or shelter ourselves. I mean doing things that make us feel good. Doing things that help us manage our stress more effectively. Taking time out of the everyday grind, out of the overwhelming stress that is living through COVID to do the “non-essentials” of having a warm bath with lavender, doing an online yoga class, making time for a 20-30 minute walk most or every day, talking with a much loved friend on the phone or via Zoom, doing a crossword puzzle, reading a book by your favourite author, giving and receiving a hand massage with a family member, putting your favourite music on and singing and dancing along, baking your favourite cookies, sitting down with a cuppa, or even spending time sorting through and organising your pantry if that brings you joy.

I know that I need to give myself permission and allocate more time to do things that bring me joy, make me feel good and allow me to have a period of time most days, if not all, to not have COVID-19 taking up too much of my brain space. I promise to myself to keep working towards prioritising “taking care of myself” time from now on. I suspect I will have many bumps and obstacles, mainly my own tendency to see other things in my life –

  • making sure my two young children have their needs met
  • doing the tasks my small private practice needs done especially ensuring the families I support are receiving the best therapy I can provide, and
  • working in partnership with my husband to keep our house and finances in order

as more “essential” than doing things that are specifically aimed at providing my mind and body time to restore and rejuvenate. But I am going to keep trying, and keep getting back on my “taking care of myself” path after any and every little or big bump in my way. What do you think you could do to restore and rejuvenate your mind and body? What can you do to prioritise time in your day or week to do things to take care of yourself?