For most of us, the past few weeks have quite possibly been some of the most stressful times in our lives. We’ve been abruptly forced into isolation and cut off from our communities. There are those of us who are struggling with taking on the new role of teaching our kids through distance learning, while others are on the front lines saving people’s lives while risking their own. We live in a world full of many unknowns and sometimes that can cause a lot of fear and anxiety.
When I first started seeing my counselor, one of the things she recommended was that I learn how to take care of myself. I have found this simple truth, to be so very helpful while we’ve been on lockdown the past few weeks. Before I could take care of others, I needed to learn how to take care of me. I needed to find things that would replenish my soul. Things that I found enjoyable and took delight in.
She used the analogy of putting on an oxygen mask in an airplane. Before you can help anyone else with their oxygen mask, you must put your own oxygen mask on first. If you don’t, everyone suffers, and no one survives.
The only way I am able to help everyone around me, is if I first take care of myself.
Initially it felt really uncomfortable. It seemed selfish to be focusing so much on myself. However, in order for me to be the best wife, mother, friend, and most recently, crisis school teacher that I need to be, I have to take care of me. Only then am I able to care for those around me to the very best of my ability.
Taking care of oneself, or self-care, looks different for everyone. What I might find refreshing and rejuvenating, someone else may not. But here are a few practical tips for self-care that you may find helpful as you learn to take care of yourself so that you can better care for those around you while in self-quarantine.
Do something you enjoy
I know we have to be a bit more creative now, but try to do things you enjoy while still practicing social distancing. Read, paint, cook, bake or watch a favorite TV show or movie. I have even discovered that while I don’t have a green thumb for gardening, I do enjoy pulling weeds. I get rid of all of my frustrations as I rip those suckers out of the dirt and toss them in the trash bag. Great way to relieve stress!
Eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and exercise. Go for a walk or bike ride outside. Get some fresh air and open your windows to get as much sunlight into your home as you can. Some experts even say you should try to get at least 15 minutes of sun exposure a day between 10am -2pm for your daily does of vitamin D.
After one particularly stressful morning with the kids, I put myself on time out and did some yoga so my head wouldn’t explode. After some downward dog poses and deep breathing, distance learning could resume. I’ve also soaked in a hot bath with instrumental worship music playing. Coincidently, this also relates to my kids and I did this when we finished our first week of distance learning.
Another helpful tip my counselor gave was to have a support group. Even us introverts need people we can reach out to. I have tried to be more intentional at calling or texting friends. If you haven’t already been Zoomed out during distance learning, you can set up a Zoom call with a bunch of friends just to stay connected with other people. Even though we are self-isolating, doesn’t mean we have to isolate our hearts from other people.
These tips have helped me retain some of my sanity during self-quarantining. Every week brings on a new set of challenges, but this morning I was also reminded of this verse:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
Right now sort of feels like we are globally in the wilderness. We aren’t sure when this will be over, but perhaps we should view this as a time when the Lord is going to bring about something new in our lives. Even though we may be in the desert, God is always there making a way for us.
Keep well and stay safe friends!