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Self-Care During a Pandemic

The term “self-care” has become so buzzy in recent years that it’s almost lost its meaning — but COVID is a brutal reminder that it is a serious priority. Enter: Pandemic Self-Care! We all need it now more than ever.  

Moms have found this time especially arduous, not to mention we’ve been struggling to find time for self-care since, let’s see, oh… THE BEGINNING OF TIME. But now, we’re grappling with two pandemics: COVID-19 & Systemic Racial Injustice. Which makes this, quite possibly, the most uncertain time we’ve collectively faced. Now that we’re all cooped up at home with our families, it may feel even more difficult to find the time (and space) to push the pause button for a little TLC. But what if we could use this mandatory shut-in status to think about self-care in a different light? 

Life with kids is still an overfull cup, but with fewer daily commutes and “different” to-dos, you may be able to snag some quiet moments life doesn’t usually serve up. So go ahead and put your own oxygen mask on first. Caring for yourself — taking time off from daily life to take care of YOU, even briefly — can really make a difference. And hey, you know what they say: happy mama = happy family.

That said, we’ve gathered a few ideas for unscheduled, drop-of-the-hat, at-home self-care on the cheap — so take a deep breath and embrace a few moments of calm just for you.

Mindfulness + Endorphins Work Wonders…

In-home yoga tends to draw a crowd. Be advised.
  • Text therapy. $65 per week for unlimited therapy? OMG WTH how?!?! But, yes please. Only one question — can I start yesterday? Click your way to Better Help.
  • Turn off devices. Friends, this costs you zero dollars. Can’t bear to be off the grid for too long? Set your oven timer for one hour, then proceed to power it all down. Work your way up from there. There is seriously no better way to declutter your brain… and for free?! You can’t afford not to. As an avid internet addict, I realize how hard this sounds. But trust me. It’s life changing.
Cheer up, Charlie… It’s only temporary.
  • LAUGH YOUR DAMN ASS OFF. Why? Well… I could get all science-y, but I’ll spare you from that. Instead, I’ll opine on the new wave of female comedians blowing up social media right now. Yes, it should come as no surprise that as the person managing all our social channels (that you hopefully love so much), I spend more than my fair share of time on the internet. I realize this is in direct contrast to what I just wrote above, but hear me out. Sometimes, we all need to piss our pants laughing. And not just because of pelvic floor issues. My personal favorite is Sarah Cooper, whose 2018 book, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings, is a great pick-me-up distraction for challenging times. #FanGirlAlert below…
via @HeatherOfTheYear on Instagram
  • Write it all out. There’s truly (almost) nothing as calming and satisfying at the end of yet another pandemic day as… putting good old-fashioned pen to paper — just dump alllll those thoughts out. Maybe you want to keep a journal. Perhaps you’d prefer to jot your thoughts on a scrap paper, then immediately crumple it up and let it go. A similar practice for the beginning of the day is Morning Pages from Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way – Morning Pages. Originally conceived of as an idea for artists and creatives, it also applies to all of us can’t-stop-won’t-stop entertaining-kids + home-cooking mamas 😉 
via @TheEveryGirl on Instagram
  • Listening Time. If you haven’t heard of this yet, please allow us to introduce you to this amazing self-care parenting tool from the incredible resource, Hand In Hand Parenting. Once you dive in, you’ll see that there is so much to it. But the crux of Listening Time is having a chunk of uninterrupted space with your partner. You’ll use this time to talk about parenting (or other) challenges while another parent listens; then you switch. It’s amazing what discord you can solve once you allow yourself to voice it to a kind witness. Learn more about it here.
  • Tea time. As far as pandemic self-care goes, there’s nothing much easier than pouring yourself a cup of tea. As a wise woman once told me, half of the medicine is in the making of it. Holding the steaming mug while you watch the tea leaves float and the water change color — this is mindfulness 101. For those taking the meditation hint and running with it, might I suggest this simple, honest, illustrated little book: There Is No Right Way To Meditate.
  • De-clutter. With this much time ALL the time spent at home, de-cluttering is the stress-reducing trick that can quickly, visibly improve life in my household. I’ve learned everything I know about toy rotation, vertical folding and being honest with myself about the things I really want to hold onto from Rebeccah at Whole House Cleanse (free tips alert!). Now that many of our homes are doubling as offices (not to mention school, camp, the local restaurant, day care, the gym…), you may want to check out Marie Kondo’s latest book, Joy At Work.

Skin and Beauty

  • Facial massage. Got that permanent grimace from managing the insane amount of Zoom and FaceTime calls you and your kids are expected to be participating in? Helpful hint: try kneading out the knots that can accumulate in the micro-muscles of your face. A traditional Chinese treatment, Gua Sha, utilizes cool jade face rollers and scraping tools to improve your skin’s circulation and reduce inflammation. I mean, we’ll do anything Tracee Ellis Ross does, yes?! You can also try the facial Fascia Blaster to reduce tension and improve skin tone — and if you do, know that me and my newly minted supermodel cheekbones are with you!
  • DIY body scrub. Pandemic activity alert! Get YOUR KIDS to make YOU some body scrub, using stuff you probably already have around the house! Best ingredients are salt, sugar, or ground coffee. Yes folks, this one is a triple win: it’s affordable, it keeps the kids busy for a solid 12 minutes (you’re welcome), and it’s a true treat for your skin. Mix any of these exfoliants with honey or coconut oil. Drop in an essential oil or two, and BAM! Done. Note for those of you who like to sleep at night (all of us): save the coffee version for morning showers only. #facepalm
Baby Bum Balm: Great for over-washed hands & body scrubs.
  • Take your vitamins. This one has some cost associated with it, but I’m sure you’ve been just as intrigued with their Instagram ads as I have. Enter: Ritual. The vitamin subscription service (cancel any time) with the really cool photos! They have prenatal and multi-vitamin options. With pandemic shopping being what it is, these being delivered to your door can alleviate a bit of our collective stress.
  • Teeth whitening. With so many at-home versions of teeth whiteners on the market now, I still swear by good old Crest 3D Whitestrips. A few minutes per day, and I promise that your fam and friends — when you get to see them again in10 years — will comment on how sparkly your teeth are.

Stay healthy. Stay hydrated.

I hope you have found some valuable tips to enhance your pandemic self-care practice. It goes without saying that taking care of yourself is always important. But right now, as you sit in the middle of an international health crisis and nationwide unrest, taking care of yourselves is critical. Make sure you’re continuing to put yourself at the top of your priority list. And remember, no matter how cliché this may be, you still can’t pour from an empty cup…

Go ahead and share some of your own pandemic self-care tips with us in the comments!

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