Self-care in a time of weirdness

Self-care is like flossing, doing your taxes early, or cleaning out your refrigerator: you know it’s a great idea, but you just don’t do it. 


In the thick of a global pandemic, it’s hard to think about self-care, isn’t it? Like me, you may keep reading posts and articles that remind us to take care of ourselves and to rest when we can. Heck, I’m even posting those posts. 


The thing is, self-care was hard for most of us before a virus ever crept into our midst. We’re just realizing how much we miss things right now. Unlike flossing, taxes, and remastering your fridge, self-care is avoided because it causes guilt. Guilt is a nasty beast, and in times where we’re cooped up with ourselves and each other more than ever, any and every emotion and feeling can slap us in the face harder than ever before, too. But guilt over self-care is not a new feeling. We’ve learned to look at self-care as a luxury, as something you do if you happen to take a trip to an all-inclusive retreat on an island, or it’s your birthday, or if you get a bonus or win the lottery. There’s only one tiny problem with this mindset: these things hardly every happen. So guess what? Neither does your self-care.


There’s too much to care about right now, you might say. Fear, finances, facemasks, and freaking homeschool. Moments of rest and rejuvenation and retreat may feel so far away right now. Days that used to feel like weekends and sabbaths aren’t distinguished from any other day. You might say that there’s no worse time to think about such indulgences as self care. But maybe we can see this unique moment in time as instead a remarkable time to reinvent and redefine it. 


Caring for yourself doesn’t need to be something you’d get a gift certificate for, like a massage or a mani/pedi. It doesn’t need to be going to a physical space to take care of your body or mind, like a yoga studio or the gym. And it’s certainly not vacation time. What if we can adjust our thinking on what caring for ourselves is by using what’s already here? 


What if we made our habits more delicious and appealing? Your morning and night routines can become incredibly sacred. That’s self-care.


What if we could see the sunrise with coffee, after not waking up to an alarm clock with nowhere to be, as a moment to indulge in right now? Yep, self-care.


Go on a bike ride without your cell phone. I promise it’s possible. Self-cared yourself again.


Oh what’s that you say? You’ve always wanted to play the guitar that’s collecting dust (pollen?) in your living room corner? Pick it up and search for lessons on YouTube. Heck yeah to self-care.


You’re tired, my friend? Lay down. Put the fan on. Feel yourself breathe. Sleep. Because you can. That’s self-care.

Watch anything - ANYTHING! - that makes you laugh. Have megawatt boundaries and say no to the news for a while. SELF! CARE!


Are these self-lovin’ options - or other ones you’d like to implement - causing you anxiety, just thinking about doing them right now? Yeah, that’s normal, too. If you’ve never made time and space for it, caring for yourself drums up that guilt we talked about, and maybe you’re not feeling invited to a discipline of joy right now. It’s OK. Start small, ease into your self-care...but start today. One small thing. 


We can also embrace this as an opportunity to encourage others to take care of themselves. We’ve seen the power of telling people to stay home; people are sharing their work and passions for free; folks are donating to small businesses to help keep them afloat. When one person gets on board, others do, too. And so it can be with self-care! Send notes and photos of encouragement to your running group. Set up a massage station in your home for your family. Make a place in your yard to meditate and share the idea with friends. Take walks and call a someone while they walk. Have a friend or family member who needs encouragement from you to keep seeing their therapist online? Love them with reminders to check in with their provider.


And when the tides turn, and this all blows over, remember that you set yourself up to be a better caregiver to yourself in the midst of a gosh dang global pandemic (cue slow clap.) Do not use our eventual return to normalcy as an excuse to stop caring for yourself. It’s not the end of an era or like the gravy train stopped. It was never really a gravy train to begin with. Regardless, keep the gravy comin’. Keep walking and calling, move your body, laugh too hard, have great healthy boundaries, and book that massage you said you’d only do for your birthday or if pigs flew. And if flossing, tax prep, and fridge whipping make you feel shiny and new, hey -  do that, too. 

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