True to its name, it’s a list of 100 ways to take care of yourself, broken down into categories of how this applies to different situations.
For example, ways to take care of your body, ways to take care of your mind, ways to take care of your emotions, self-care for people who have more time than money, self-care for people who have more money than time, etc.
A Sudden, Strange Situation
But all of a sudden, we all find ourselves living in a very strange situation.
Something that I’ve found to be grounding is to find an idea that feels reassuring, and fall back on it when everything feels like too much.
For me, that idea is: “If we do everything right, it will seem like we overreacted.” Feel free to borrow it, or to find something else that soothes you.
And, while you’re searching for that idea, here’s a list of 50 ways to take care of yourself during the coronavirus pandemic. The best approach to this list is to find one or two that sound helpful, rather than trying to take on everything at once.
Listen to your feelings about what feels safe and what doesn’t. If you engage in an activity and feel uncomfortable afterward, it’s okay to shift your boundaries to be more rigid.
Tell loved ones you feel lonely. Labeling the feeling can help you feel more connected to those around you.
Engage in your community by having conversations with your neighbors – from opposite sides of the street.
Have a social distancing get-together with someone in an outdoor space. Sit on separate picnic blankets on the grass, six feet apart, or take a walk on opposite sides of a track.
If You Feel Overwhelmed:
Make a list of things that you can still control in your life. This is especially important if you tend to seek control in unhealthy ways (eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.).
Make a list of your fears, and then brainstorm ways to be okay if they come to fruition. Be specific: Instead of “I’m worried about money,” write “I’m afraid that the company I work for is going to have to lay me off, and I won’t be able to afford to pay my rent.”
Set media boundaries and limit the amount of time you spend reading the news each day.
Exercise to sluff off some of that stress. A lot of gyms are offering online memberships, and there are a lot of free YouTube videos. But this can also be as easy as walking or jogging around your neighborhood.
Break tasks you usually outsource into smaller pieces. If you’ve asked your housekeeper to stay home, make a list of the things they typically do for you and assign one to each day of the week. If you suddenly find yourself homeschooling your children, don’t expect that you will have the bandwidth to teach them things for 6-8 hours (or that they will have the bandwidth to learn for that long). Instead, focus on one thing a day.
Find ways to delineate when you are working and not working. Designate part of your home as your “workspace”, or choose an item of clothing you will only wear when you are “at work”. A friend who used to work from home a lot once told me he would wear a tie any time he was working – even if it meant he was just wearing boxers and a tie.
If your feelings of overwhelm are related to your membership in an at-risk category (older folks, people with pre-existing health conditions), ask for help from people who aren’t in these groups.
If Your Relationships are Taking a Toll:
Note: This section is for relationships that are strained, not abusive. If you are living with someone who makes you feel unsafe during this time, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
Practice “generous assumptions”. That is, assume that your loved one’s intentions are good before reacting.
Recognize that everyone is managing this situation differently, and make space for that to be okay. If you feel that someone is being reckless in this scary time, express it from a place of love, kindness, and concern, rather than from a place of making demands.
If you are a person who values your alone time, and you’re now cooped up in the house with a loved one, practice “spousal distancing” for at least a few minutes every day.
Express “wishes” instead of “demands”. Say, “It would really help me if…” instead of “I need you to…”
Reconnect by planning a “date night” at home, and play a game or watch a movie together. If you have children, do this after their bedtime.
Use “I-statements” when expressing your wishes. Don’t say, “You always leave dirty dishes in the sink”; instead say, “I really value having a clean kitchen, do you think you can help me with that?” (And remember, “I feel like you’re an idiot” isn’t an I-statement, even though it starts with the word “I”!)
Practice super-charged self-care. Sleep as much as you need to. Eat as well as you can. Stay home. While you are quarantined, use as many of the items from the above “if you are feeling lonely” list as you feel up for.
Don’t blame yourself. Coronavirus is not selective based on virtue. Some people will be reckless and not get sick; others will do everything right and get sick anyway. Getting coronavirus is not a cosmic punishment. It’s a random bad thing that happened to you.
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the Blog Editor. He currently works online seeing couples from Massachusetts at Couples Therapy Inc. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.