We need a self-care plan

None of us has been in this situation before.

Quarantine has disrupted our daily rituals – from the shower and getting ready to leave our home, to the way we relax at the end of the day.  It’s taking away our vitality, and shortly I’ll make some suggestions on how to regain this.

There is now so much uncertainty, the future has unravelled. We don’t know what the future will bring.  It can be hard to be positive for the future.

We may be experiencing grief – missing the personal connections we usually have, and the loss of our normal life.

Cognitive and psychological capacity – we only have so much, and demands, perhaps of a relative can take up much of this. This can then bubble up and lead to us getting angry with those we love.  Now, more than ever, we need to practice self-care.

STRESS AND SELF CARE

Stress is a normal reaction; we all have different stress thresholds. Regularly we need to ask ourselves am I stressing out right now? These are not necessarily real threats, but perceived threats.

For most of us watching/listening to the news will raise our stress levels, so we need to switch the news off. Once a day is enough.

Self-care will help us:

  • To be ready for strains and stresses of life – to prevent things
  • For after something has occurred – resilience – treatment

PLANS AND GOALS

Many people like to make plans and have routines. With much uncertainty we can set some in place. Making our beds, regular mealtimes, little things that give some structure to the day.

We may have thought we could reach stretch goals – learn to play the guitar, a foreign language, lose 10 pounds. But whilst in normal circumstances stretch goals give us something to aim for, in this time … well, it’s not a normal time.

Rather than have a plan to follow, we need more flexibility, and have a toolbox of things we can try out.  We want to maintain good mental health, that’s the overall objective.

SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T HELPING

“There is a large body of literature to suggest that excessive internet use is associated with poor mental health” – Dr Lee Smith, Anglia Ruskin University.

When many use social media they edit and filter their photos and post pictures of themselves having fun.  We want to create a great image of who we are. But then we look at our actual lives, and it doesn’t match up, so this can lead to stress and anxiety. And we see everyone else looking perfect, with great lives too.

THE SELF HELP TOOLBOX

Just a start … I’d love to add to this list so feel free to comment and I’ll add it to this list.

Quick Relaxation Techniques:

  1. Clench out hands and release and focus on our breathing. We can do this at any time, waiting in the queue to get into the supermarket, when getting frustrated when people don’t keep their distance etc.
  2. The flop. Hang your arms at your side, close your eyes, drop head down, let muscles in face loosen, chin pulls to the floor.  Take a deep breath, wiggle toes, loosen legs, clench pelvic muscles x 3 and then let go.   
  3. Big Stretch. Clinch fingers together lift arms take behind head; your breath out should be longer than breathing in.  This keeps you in the moment. If you are having an emotional response, then make a sound as you breathe out (probably best if alone, but hey ho!). This releases the emotional attachment.  

It’s worth doing this when we are with people as it may help them too.

HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO REGAIN OUR VITALITY

  1. Autonomous behaviour – As there is so much that we can no longer, it’s as if we have been grounded. We need to look how we can add more control. To find our internal locus of control. Ways to do this include:
    1. Create structure through household tasks – making the bed, regular meals, keeping everywhere clean and tidy. We can also arrange to talk to a friend each day.
    1. Create our own rituals. This could be anything from a meditation and stretching start and end to the day to something more complex.
    1. Writing can be beneficial and is used in therapy. This could be:
      • Writing each day. Julia Cameron wrote about morning pages. It clears your mind and is cathartic to write about anything that is grumpy, you wirte down anything that crosses your consciousness – cloud thoughts, and then destroy it.  It can be quite meditative to use thin paper that dissolves in water or set fire to it (safely).

After Weeks of Watching the Roof Leak By Gary Snyder

After weeks of watching the roof leak

I fixed it tonight

By moving a single board

  1. Erasure poetry (blackout poetry) – You take a newspaper and circle the words you want to keep and block out the rest.
    1. Exercise helps to metabolise the chemistry of stress.  It helps with flight or fight – go for a run, cycle ride, dance like crazy at home …
  2. Competency – we gain vitality if we feel appropriately challenged – we lose it if the task is too challenging, or too easy. You could consider
    1. Learn guitar,
    1. new baking techniques
    1. Sewing or craft tasks etc.
  3. Relatedness – we gain vitality when we can relate to others in a meaningful way.  By not meeting with friends and colleagues we are losing vitality
    1. Create a quarantine plan to regularly contact people – phone call, facetime or Zoom/Skype
    1. Hug trees instead of people
  4. Nature – We gain vitality when in the presence of nature including pets, and house plants
    1. Can you garden, plant seeds, even in a window box?
    1. Take shoes off and stand on grass
    1. Listen to the wind in the trees and the bird song

THE MOSAIC APPROACH

You can add to the list above, and there are also the things you must do, because you are working from home, or that you feel you should be doing.

Treat all these options, as tiles that can be used to create a mosaic.

You don’t have to pick up the work tile, or the heavy going book leave them to one side If what you need right now is to watch a film or to start a new series on Netflix, then choose that.

You’ve never been in this situation before, so you can choose whatever works best for you

And you can change your mind – do what is right for you.

But do add helpful things to the toolbox. Never tried baking, maybe now is the time to start? Want to try an online exercise class – give it a go. Want to sit and look out on the horizon – lovely.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this, feel free to add in the comments below.

Much love

Denise x

See also

Be kind to yourself when working from home

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