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In Times Like These Self-Care Is Essential

This is an unprecedented time in which we’re all being called to practice social distancing. This may mean staying at home, or you may be going into work as an essential member of society who is maintaining our ability to function through this crisis. Then once you’re able to be at home you practice social distancing in other ways. Both of these, keeping essential services running smoothly and practicing social distancing, are essential parts of maintaining a healthy and functioning community. However, we know that it’s difficult to have your normal routines disrupted, or completely changed. It is important for us all during this time to practice social connection and community care.

There are ways that you can add moments of self-care and social connection to your days. I have found for me scheduling my time can help  me create a new routine and structure to days whether I’m working from home, or I am not sure how to spend my time at home. It can be as simple as scheduling regular check-in phone or video calls with friends and family or scheduling which days you plan on doing certain activities like cleaning, reading, working out, or cooking.

It is especially important to reach out to family and friends during this time. There are countless platforms such as Google hangouts, Facebook messenger, Skype, and Zoom that allow you to video chat with multiple people at once for free. Check in with your regular workout group or book club to schedule time to virtually meet up. Host a virtual trivia night, Karaoke night, happy hour, or movie night. Technology allows us to be connected with our loved ones and when every directive we’re given is to maintain physical distance it’s important to continue to foster our community ties.

Building community, or maintaining community ties, aren’t only done through calls and seeing each other. Food and cooking build cultural and community bonds; these rituals are comforting and important parts of the relationships we have with our friends and family. My friends and I go to the same Indian restaurant at least once a month, order way too much food, and sit in the restaurant for way too long. While FaceTiming one night we realized that we missed each other’s company, but also the small rituals that come with friendship like going to the same restaurants over and over until the staff know that you’ll probably get two appetizers but won’t know what entrée you want until they come back a second time. We scheduled a night where we both order takeout/delivery, talk over FaceTime, and come together to enjoy our favorite restaurant and meal together.

If your family or friends cook certain meals for you during celebrations, or to bring you comfort, take the time now to make those dishes and remind yourself of those connections. Websites like Smitten Kitchen or Budget Bytes post recipes that are comforting, low cost, and don’t have to take a long time to make. If you have favorite restaurants that you find yourself missing during this time, call and see if they offer take-out or delivery options. Apps like UberEats and GrubHub have waived delivery fees making it easier to eat our favorite foods and support the establishments that make our communities home. If you do opt for take-out or delivery please remember to tip the restaurant workers or delivery drivers generously – they’re out and working essential jobs that are making all of our lives easier while putting themselves at risk.

Given that we’re all also being asked to stay inside as much as possible it’s natural to feel like you have excess energy, or for feelings of restlessness to pop up. Adding movement to your daily routine can help us feel connected with ourselves and with the present moment instead of our anxieties and fears. Adding movement to your day doesn’t have to be a complex home work out – you can start by vacuuming your living room or sweeping your kitchen floors. Something that gets you up and reconnects you with your body in the current moment can be important additions to a self-care routine. Before, a large part of my own self-care routine was going to community yoga classes. I love Yoga With Adriene classes because they offer comforting and challenging practices with an online community that makes you feel supported even when practicing from home. Her videos are free on YouTube if you search “Yoga With Adriene,” and she has videos on managing stress, dealing with disaster, and for tension relief. If you want to add movement to your day there are many other options as well. Centr is a workout app created by Chris Hemsworth that is waiving its membership fee, PopSugar fitness on YouTube offers a wide range of workouts ranging from kickboxing to barre classes, and the Nike Fitness Club’s premium membership fees has also been temporarily waived.

These resources and tips are all small ways you can add moments of self-care and routine to your day in a time where we’re all trying to figure out what a new normal routine looks like. Experiment and see which you like best, and which you’ll maybe try but won’t stick with (it’s nice to think I could workout like Chris Hemsworth, but I’ll stick with Adriene for the long term). Taking care of ourselves and our mental health is so important during this time, and I hope everyone reading this tries at least one new way of taking care of yourself, your family, and your community this week.