Self-care sounds like a long-forgotten luxury idea at this point. At home with four kids and my husband (their stepdad) during the quarantine, I’m struggling to just get through each day. I’ve even started tracking on the fridge how many times each day we all cry; I post on Instagram with a #ionlycriedoncetoday hashtag after a good day of homeschooling, laundry, dishes, work and more. Yet taking care of myself is absolutely critical. I can’t afford to get sick. I just can’t. So I’m doing whatever I can to lower my stress and boost my immune system, knowing that right now, self-care isn’t about treating myself; it’s about truly taking care of myself so I can take care my family.
1. I don’t read/watch the news until after the kids go to bed.
My husband Kyle and I sit, scroll, watch, and read after we’ve had productive, normal-ish days. If I start any earlier, the anxiety overtakes me and I can’t function. You often hear that you’re not supposed to consume stressful news anytime near bedtime, but this works for us.
2. I socialize on Zoom.
Every time I Zoom with a group of friends, I feel like myself again, even if for just a few minutes. Is it the same as real-life togetherness? Absolutely not. But staying connected seems to be my salvation during this time when we’re all physically isolated. I think that’s why things like my new virtual book club, my preschool moms’ reunion Zooms, heart-to-hearts with my best friend, video chats with the kids and all their cousins, and even doing a school chapel webinar make me so happy.
3. I clean.
Straightening up. Folding the laundry. Mopping the kitchen floor. Doing the dishes. I know these are part of the fabric of everyday life, anyway, but right now these feel less like chores and more like rituals that help me so much. The more I take care of my home, the more I convince myself I’m here by choice.
4. I help others.
It keeps me going to know I can be of service to others. I may not have a medical degree, but I can add value. So I’m doing it. All the time. Even when I can’t see straight. I’m also trying to financially help causes that are meaningful to me, like BINC (Book Industry Charitable Foundation), Nurses for Noshes, No Kid Hungry, the New York hospital systems and all the small, local businesses I care about personally.
5. I let others help me.
Shout out to my husband Kyle for doing all the cooking and grocery shopping during this time. Chili. Pasta from scratch. Chicken Milanese. I’m going to roll myself out of here. My big kids have started helping me put the littles to bed at night which I’m so grateful for. My son even read a book I needed to cover for my podcast!
6. I exercise.
I know. It’s so obvious, right? But it really helps! Even a short workout video changes my whole mood.
Seriously. Yes, my focus is compromised, but even reading a few pages at night calms me down. Amazon isn’t prioritizing book orders right now (you’ll get ‘em, but not always as quick as normal) and independent bookstores need our help now, so I recommend shopping at Bookshop.org (where I’ve curated a number of “shops” with books I love.)
What’s helping you these days (and what’s not)?