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Challenge: Taking Care of YOU

5 Self-Care Strategies Parents Need During COVID-19

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When we're in survival mode, self-care can feel like a foregone luxury. However, our mental health is at risk during coronavirus as much as our physical health, if not more so. We often don't make the time to take care of ourselves. Perhaps we think it's frivolous or maybe we've been taking care of others for so long, we've forgotten what we need. As parents this is often true. But self-care isn't an "extra" thing we do, it's essential.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Psych central says, "Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well."

Our self-care could also be the difference between us getting COVID-19 or not.

Our stress levels affect our immunity. The world is experiencing record high levels of anxiety. One third of the population struggles with anxiety already. It's also extremely contagious. Our anxiety levels rise as a collective society.

We are taking on heavier responsibilities: homeschooling our own children, working from home, cooking all our own meals, cleaning our houses, not taking breaks and it's feeling impossible. Our prolonged weariness can also lead to burnout, as it did for me, which is why self-care is even more crucial.

Ya'll know I'm a self-care lover. It's changed my life and is at the forefront of my daily rituals. I recently created some fun, free, and engaging self-care tools here, with self-care ideas and self-care check in printables, easy to share with your friends.

I like to think of self-care not just as my little indulgences, (Good Girls, wine, etc) even though they can be helpful, but as the things that really nurture me. They may not always feel good in the short term (hello, exercise & going to bed early) but they do in the long term.

These are the 5 self-care practices I think the world needs most during coronavirus:

1. Self-compassion

When we love ourselves, we are more able to love others. Self-compassion means stopping and noticing where you are triggered and offering yourself nurture and support. By loving ourselves we're able to love our neighbor. Sometimes I like to place a hand to my heart and say "You're ok in this moment. I see you. I know you feel scared. I'm here for you." Taking time for yourself instead of demanding your partner fix you, will benefit you both. Also let go of comparative suffering. Emotions don't go away even if you think your situation isn't as bad as someone else's. Your hurt is your hurt. One of my favorite self-compassion exercises is Tara Brach's Calm Masterclass. More self-compassion exercises here.

2. Creativity

Reconnecting with the things that bring us life, and fuel our creativity is the most important and overlooked aspect of self-care. I can do many other self-care activities, but when I'm not writing I don't feel fueled. Connecting with our creativity sparks life. Find the creative activities that help you get into "flow." Time disappears when you're in this state. Playing music, singing, dancing, creative writing, poetry, graphic design, painting, journaling, photography, swimming, sports, gardening, sewing, baking, reading, drawing, drumming, puzzles, adult coloring books. There is a creative part of us that needs an outlet. It can often be the first to go under stress, but we need to prioritize it. My friend Joanna Phoenix wrote about this recently so beautifully. Begin with your favorite hobbies or activities you liked to do as a child and build from there. As creatives we need to think about: What gift can we give to the world during quarantine?

3. Movement

We need to release sweat and toxins to exhale anxiety. As someone who has struggled through panic attacks and adrenal fatigue one of the most grounding things I do to diminish adrenaline and get more present in my body is to get sweaty! It can also help protect our health through the creation of antioxidants. I love to move in nature by hiking. Right now in Puerto Rico I'm in lockdown so that luxury has been taken from me. If you can still get outside, do that. The combination of running or walking in nature is amazing for your nervous system. Instead, I'm drawing upon free online resources to get my at-home workouts in. Using things like Popsugar Fitness, Be Fit, Tone it Up, Yoga with Adrienne, Beach Body, etc. Would love to know your favorites!

4. Connection

We are not creatures of isolation, which is why this is so hard. I've talked about co-regulation here when I talked about our trauma brain. Co-regulation is so important. Even if you don't feel like it, hug your partner (or dog) or child, for 10 seconds, and match your breathing. Take a nap together. In marriages right now it feels like we're just splitting responsibilities and surviving. Maybe you can offer some simple bids for connection. Some helpful tips from Brené are to name the percentage you're at. So we can fill in the gaps for each other. Today, I'm at 20%. Where are you? How can I help? Acknowledge and validate. Don't compete for who is the most worn out. Be curious instead of angry or critical. "I notice____." Carve out space from each other during the day and make a special "date-night-in" whether it be making a pizza together, or watching your favorite show, or checking in with their feelings. Ask for what you need instead of assuming the other party knows. Maybe plan (or just have) some mid-week sex (I know I am!)

Even if you can't see your friends you can Marco Polo them, zoom them, or drop some goodies off by their doorstep. Get creative. We need to laugh with each other to stay sane.

5. Permission

Right now during coronavirus, lockdowns, and quarantines don't seem to be ending any time soon, we need permission. Permission to not be perfect. Permission to feel all your feelings, including your grief. permission to pamper yourselves. Permission to leave the house a mess. Permission to let the kids watch screens. Permission to be lazy sometimes. Permission to plan that vacation you'll take someday--even anticipation can bring us happiness. Permission to just get through your day even if it isn't your best version of yourself. Permission to even be calm and not freaking out. Sometimes I write myself permission slips..."I give you permission to ________."

This weekend while in lockdown, I started a new book (City of Girls) did a pilates class, took a nap with the hubs, went to bed early, and made eggplant parmesan while listening to classical music.

Comment below with your favorite self-care practices keeping you sane right now. I'd love to hear them!

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