Debbie Lee, MA, MFT
Taking Care of Yourself During Quarantine
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
I don't know about all of you but self-care during the coronavirus quarantine has been challenging! I'm busy "homeschooling" my 6-year old while trying to keep my 3-year old entertained. I'm attempting to keep both children on some sort of schedule that doesn't involve hours of screen time. I'm feeding a family of 4 three times a day, since my husband is working from home, but trying to not let the dishes pile up too much each day. I'm making sure we all get outside even for a little bit while practicing social distancing but then freaking out that we brought home coronavirus anyway so I force everyone to change their clothes, wash their hands, and disinfect the boys' scooters, my cell phone, door handles, etc. Then we're FaceTiming/Skyping/Zooming with family, friends, classmates, really anyone to maintain some sort of connection to those outside of our home.
All the while navigating my kids fighting over toys, meltdowns about anything (mine and the kids'), my own stress and anxiety about the virus, the economy, how long we can actually do this for, and on and on. It's insane! Finding time to take care of myself has been hard, as I'm sure it has been for many of you so I thought I'd take some time to write a few ideas that I have been trying to incorporate to make sure I'm taken care of too.
Don't forget to connect with yourself.
There has been so much talk about not isolating and staying connected to others, which I completely agree with, but I also want to remind everyone to make time to connect with yourself. As a mother, I'm often so concerned about everyone else and there's always so much to do that it can be hard to stop and connect with myself but it is so important. Parents have needs too so be sure to meet your needs as well!
Find some way to make space for you - meditate, journal, simply stop and breathe, or check in with yourself and ask How am I doing? How do I feel? What do I need? Let yourself feel the rollercoaster of emotions that come. Imagine your feelings as waves that roll in, they get big, they peak and then they slowly subside. Then the next one comes. Breathe and ride the waves.
Here are some meditations to help ground you, recharge, and give you a little break - Grounding & Safe Place
Turn off the news & social media.
I know it's important to stay informed, especially as more news comes in about the coronavirus but allow yourself to take breaks from the news AND social media. It's okay to not know the latest number of cases and deaths, or how fast the virus is spreading, or how your friends are dealing with the quarantine. Take a break from taking in information and allow yourself to breathe, create space, and connect with yourself.
Maybe you check the news once a day and social media once or twice a day. Find what works for you and listen to when you have reached your limit.
These may seem obvious but make sure your basic needs are being met.
Sleep - It's so important to get enough sleep. I don't know about all of you but I have been more tired than usual. It's actually exhausting staying home all day! So I know that Netflix show is impossible to turn off or you're up late texting with a friend to try to stay connected but that show will be there tomorrow and so will your friend. I certainly need to listen to this piece of advice myself!
Eat nutritious food - I know we're all eating differently than we normally do and maybe eating some creative meals to avoid going to the store but be sure to eat nutritious foods, not just snacks. Food is fuel, as I say to my kids, so make sure you're putting in foods that will give you energy and will make you feel good. At the same time, it's totally fine to eat what you want! We've definitely been indulging on chips, cookies, and chocolate more then we normally would. It's all about balance, right? And you can decide what that balance is for you and your family.
Get outside and move your body - Fresh air, sunlight, and moving your body are all great ways to keep your mood up, get oxygen flowing, and take care of your physical and mental health. If you can't get outside, maybe go out onto a balcony or even just step outside your front door. If a walk around the neighborhood isn't possible, there are lots of free workouts available online. Even just a few sun salutations may be enough!
Be gentle with yourself
Don't worry about your to-do list or the dishes piling up or how clean your home is right now. We're all in survival mode and it's okay to let go of those things for the time being. Be okay with maybe getting one, two, or none of the things on your list completed each day or week.
This time at home for days on end reminds me a lot of the time when my boys were newborns. We stayed home, the days felt incredibly long and they blurred together, we went for walks around the neighborhood, and we were all exhausted! Back then we could at least order in food without fear and friends and family could visit us but there's a similar feeling of slowing down, being present with family, and letting go of the need to be super productive.
Do something creative
For those of you that know me, I'm not a very creative person but creative expression in any form is good for the soul! Cook a new meal, draw a self-portrait, write a song, paint or draw with your kids without judgement or the need to be perfect. This isn't about being the next best artist. Just let your creativity flow.
There is a lot of scary stuff going on and we are stuck inside but there is no reason we still can't have fun and laugh! Laughter really is the best medicine. Watch a funny movie, chat with friends about the silly things you're doing to keep yourself occupied, read hilarious tweets about being quarantined, or just have silly time with your kids. Quarantine with kids is tough but I'm also so glad I have my kids because they find joy in the simplest things and make me smile and laugh every day.
I know I can complain a lot and often look at what's not going well but don't forget to look for things to be grateful for. It really makes a difference in how you see things and how you feel. Every night before bed, my husband and I name 5 things we are grateful for and sometimes it's as simple as "I'm grateful for sunshine." or "I am grateful for sleep." It can be anything, big or small. We also do this with our children before their bedtime but we each say 1 thing we are grateful for.
Stay connected and reach out
You probably already know how to stay connected to friends, family, and community but also be sure to reach out to others. Check on those around you and remember they are there for you too.
Also reach out if the isolation is starting to impact your quality of life. You can call 911 or look for hotlines in your area where you can chat with someone if you don't already have a therapist, counselor, or someone in your life who will listen and help.
I hope some of these ideas are helpful. Remember, they are merely suggestions. Take what works for you and leave the rest.