Self care isn’t just about running a bath and putting a face mask on. It’s about taking time to look after ourselves. It can benefit us emotionally, mentally and physically. During quarantine, as we have to cope with new stresses, self care in more important than ever.
If you already make time for self care, you will have already experienced the benefits of it before lockdown started. But even if you have been doing it for a while, you might still feel like this is unfamiliar territory and like you’re having to relearn the basics.
One of the most difficult aspects for those of us in quarantine is the lack of structure in our days. There is no alarm to get up for, no commute to work and no routine to our days. Even if you are working at home, there will be elements of your old routine that no longer apply. After a while, this weird feeling of detachment starts to grow and our sense of purpose starts to wane.
You might have spent 7 out of your 8 hours at work complaining about how much you hated the place and were getting out as soon as that winning lottery ticket came through, but now that it’s gone you know you miss it.
This is where your self care can come in and save the day. As I’ve already touched on, self care isn’t just about the lotions and potions. It stretches all the way from healthy eating to getting a good night sleep (if you’re struggling with sleep, I have my fool-proof method HERE). By creating a routine with your meals, hobbies and other day to day activities, it gives you that structure you have been craving for.
Like taking a nap at 2pm? Go for it! Spend half an hour each night reading a book? Great! By having these things that we do at the same time in the same way each and every single day, we are mentally and emotionally comforted. We are creatures of habit so you might as well embrace it!
Those of you who have been practicing self care for a while probably started because you wanted to improve your stress levels. I know it’s why I started. But the thing is, quarantine brings its own stresses and anxieties. And bloody hell these are on a whole new level to the ones of ‘normal’ life.
I’ve heard so many people say they’re struggling with insomnia, new panic attacks and anxieties. Sometimes people who have never had mental health problems before. These are often the people who don’t actually have a self care routine, mainly because they’ve never felt the need to have one.
It might seem a bit obvious, but doing things that make you feel happy and relaxed are going to help settle some of that stress and anxiety which has come to the surface since lockdown started. I think it’s easier to try and keep busy, to avoid how we are feeling. The problem is that as soon as you stop (normally bedtime) then all those emotions come rushing back and possibly more intensely than if we took some time out for ourselves when they first came to light.
Some people might get annoyed with me for this one but hear me out! Yes quarantine is causing some horribly stressful situations around money, health and generally being able to cope. People have lost their lives and I’m not trying to belittle that.
What I mean is, some of those things we used to stress about, thinking it was the end of the world, probably weren’t actually that bigger deal. Having time to think about and reflect on what really is important can really give some perspective on the other more trivial things.
Maybe you were stressing about something to do with work, or the fact that you had argued with your mum about something which now feels really ridiculous. Having some time to actually examine what you value is so important.
I like to sit down every night and journal what I’m thinking and feeling. It might sound a bit lame to some of you but it can be so helpful to see my worries in black and white (or whatever colour I choose to write with!). I can then look at these worries more rationally and decide what’s actually important and what I need to let go of. Sometimes it can feel like I’m letting go of a double decker bus – it’s so healing.
Once I have done this, I then write down what I am grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big, yesterday I was happy just to have food in the fridge. But having this time to focus on the fundamentals can really help when we’re surrounded by all the things we can’t do or miss doing.
Whilst there isn’t a lot of evidence to support mindfulness boosting the immune system, as I said before self care isn’t just about meditation and the hippy dippy stuff. By taking time to eat healthy food and exercise, we are definitely going to be ensuring our immune system is as full strength.
It goes without saying that this is important during quarantine. Especially for those who are still going out to work or are helping others more vulnerable. If you’re exposing yourself to nasty bugs then make sure you take the time to get your body as strong as possible.
In some ways this is more automatic than maybe it might have been prior to the start of quarantine. Now it’s not so easy to get fast food or nip to the shop for something cheeky, we’re all having to get better at cooking for ourselves. And if you’re trying to support local like I am, the food you are getting is likely to be more fresh and varied than whatever was on offer in Tesco that day.
One of the things I miss the most is the variety from eating out, but I have resolved this by ordering a weekly veggie box from the milk man. This is a great way to mix it up each week and I know the food is all locally sourced. Why not have a look around and see if any of your local shops are doing something similar? It’s good for you physically and you feel good for supporting small businesses
Before quarantine started life was a tad chaotic let’s be honest. There wasn’t enough time to keep in touch with everyone, let alone with ourselves. Even if you have a self care routine already, it was probably cut short or compromised in some way as other things took priority.
Now there are little to no distractions, self care is more enjoyable. And more over, we can actually hear what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us. It takes some adjustment, but the slower pace is a great opportunity to really connect with ourselves. I for one didn’t realise how much tension I was carrying until I was forced to stop and take a moment. Now I am working on this with yoga and meditation. I’m feeling so much better for it.
One of the harder things to reconnect with is our minds and mental health. When life is busy, it is easy to push those negative experiences and feelings down to our toes. But without those million coffee dates they all come bubbling up to the surface. Now is the best time to really dive into those experiences and feelings and work through them. It’s hard but very rewarding to know that you’re doing something for your own good.
There are loads of different ways to reconnect with yourself, so have an experiment and see what works for you. If you’re struggling with the emotional side of things, maybe see what support there is in your local community. There is so much out there provided by charities and the NHS at the moment to support those who aren’t feeling so great at the moment.
These are just a few reasons why it’s so important to practice self care during this quarantine. Maybe you’ve got some other tips which you’d like to share? Head on over the Mindfulness Community and let us know what you have done to look after yourself.
Hi, my name is Vicky and I am a Mindfulness expert. I have been practicing for over 10 years and throughout this time I have come to learn just how beneficial Mindfulness can be to each and every one of us.