Taking time for oneself is hard in what we formally called “normal life”. Now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, that extra layer of madness and surreal life makes it even harder. I am not a mental health expert, but a firm believer that if you can’t care for yourself you can’t truly provide the care for others.
It is in that same vein that I have always been a huge proponent of self care and alone time. It’s something we’ve built into our daily routine at home as much as possible. It allows us to all recharge our batteries, resented, focus, and breathe. With that said however, being home together with very few places to go for months on end, has made it increasingly difficult. Quickly I found that my thirty minute commute to and from work gave me almost five hours a week to just sit alone and be one with my thoughts… or the radio (okay, mostly the radio), but still it was uninterrupted time that once seemed bothersome and now I look at it as of it was some type of luxury. Now outings are limited and usually not alone, so that time is gone. Instead, I set my alarm for at least an hour before the rest of the family gets up. Sometimes I use that time to workout, write a post here, read, but more often than not I put on the news or a junk TV show (read: not Bubble Guppies) and enjoy my cup of coffee. Let me tell you, it is a JOY. It’s time for me to wake up and breathe before the day gets started. Things I have come to find that I need in order to be my best for everyone else that day.
Unfortunately, with this increased time of stress and uncertainty comes a deeper need for that self care time. With the continuing of the pandemic, the ebb and flow of cases and guidelines, I have found myself staying up at all hours of the night thinking a mile a minute. I have had to stop myself many times and focus on my breathing; or force myself to sit and just be okay with not rushing about inventing things that “have” to be done. I feel like I’ve had more anxiety and stress over things that usually I’m okay with than really ever before in my life; and I know that I am not alone. I know many are feeling this way, some with far bigger triggers for their stress, anxiety, and worry than mine.
Recently I saw a post about how a mom’s (really either parent) self care time continually gets reduced down to their shower. First, I don’t disagree with this; but if I’m being honest even THAT is a stretch. I can usually count on interruptions between lathers or questions shouted through the door. In other words, not the Four Seasons spa over here, and the reason why I was inspired to address this. Second, showering is rudimentary personal hygiene. That’s why I motion (to no one in particular) to relabel that as “personal time” – the time in which one can take care of their person. Time in which they can do the routine things they need to do to stay physically healthy, thus allowing them to feel ready to tackle whatever the day may bring, even if it is binge watching Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix.
On the other hand “self care” should be viewed publicly as the time one takes to nurse themselves in mind, body, and soul. This could be a walk outside, reading a book, a workout, meditation – whatever. Whatever that individual needs to not feel depleted on ALL levels, again. I think we all need to advocate for more of this true self care time for ourselves and also those around us. It’s tough being human, and perhaps the sooner we can be kinder to ourselves the sooner we can be kinder to one another. So join me (from a distance) in finding your own personal ways to take time for yourself. I truly think we will all be better off for it in the time ahead.