Social isolation is not for the faint of heart. Days get muddy. Tensions get high. And emotions? Oh, they’re crowding in.
Even in normal situations, schedules, habits and guardrails can feel stifling, full of “should” and “have to.” But in these days when nothing else is certain, they may—surprisingly!—offer a bit of peace and sense of normalcy.
For me—and I’m guessing you, too—that means taking a closer look at self-care. I’ve been amazed at how much better I feel when I remember to get my heart rate up, to get outside for a bit, to talk with a friend rather than just stare at a screen. These days, it takes a bit more of a purposeful eye.
As we shift from the newness of social distancing to an indefinite period of time, I’m finding it increasingly helpful to add more structure.
So I’ve pulled together what I’m calling my own “high-five of self care,” with five things I’m attempting to do daily to keep my spirits up, my body healthy and my mind engaged. I’m by no means perfect at it. But we’re all in this together, right? Just in case it’s helpful, here you go!
A Daily High-Five of Self Care
Faith: Belief in a higher power isn’t a sign of weakness. Rather, it can be a powerful source of peace. It allows us to trust that someone else is in charge, that ultimately there’s a grand plan even if we don’t understand it. Personally, I see the world from a Christian perspective, and taking the time to pray and to read the Word every day is an ongoing reminder to let go—and let God. I’m meditating on this: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt. 6:34, The Message).
Fitness: As a longtime student of holistic nutrition and lifestyle medicine, I’m well aware of how elements such as sleep, diet, stress management, exercise, relationships and substance abuse all work together. The sum really is greater than the whole of the parts here; the American College of Lifestyle Medicine reports that 80 percent of more of all healthcare spending in our nation is tied to conditions related to lifestyle choices.
How we take care of our bodies in minds in this season, then, isn’t just about how we feel today. It can have long-reaching impact—positive or negative—too. I’m doing my best to include solid rest, movement, healthy foods and peaceful practices each and every day. Added bonus? Fresh air, a bit of sunlight and plenty of water.
Finances: I realize I’m incredibly fortunate to have worked from home for more than two decades. I already have some solid structures in place for getting things done. That said, these are uncertain times. What’s normal one day, as we’re learning, may not be the next. This category, then, is about discipline in making sure my work still gets done, even when I have moments of overwhelm from the current circumstances. But it’s also about being conscious of the financial decisions I’m making every single day.
Family/friends: No matter where we fall on the introvert to extrovert scale, we all still need some human interaction. These days, we might need to try a little harder—and be more creative—to get it. The other side of that, though, is that with a bit more time on our hands, phone calls, video chats and face-to-face conversations with those we’re already quarantined with can all deepen relationships in ways that texts and GIFs and emojis may not. I’m sincerely enjoying the chance to check in with those I love!
Fun: Ever wonder why laughter has long been considered the best medicine? Aside from the fact it just feels good, many believe it also has solid health benefits: increasing blood flow, releasing endorphins, reducing pain and helping combat stress. How about a little dance party to blow off steam? Playing some board games? Watching a fun movie? Telling corny jokes?
In this season, we hear much about the greater good and the importance of caring for others.
If there’s one thing I’m learning, though, it’s that we can’t really do that unless we’re also caring for ourselves.
So… a touchpoint of faith, a balanced view of fitness, a measured eye on finances, community with family/friends, and touch of fun.
Who knows? Perhaps we’ll emerge from this season more connected, more rested and more aware of the choices we make on a daily basis. Worth a shot, yes?