Now that we’re approximately 3,000 years into the pandemic (at least it certainly feels that way), you may actually be getting acclimated to this weird time. But even though it may feel more routine, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still cause stress.
If you haven’t yet found a way to nourish your soul, I highly recommend it. You’ll be a better worker, partner, parent, and friend — but you’re by no means expected to give 110% to any of these roles all the time. It’s okay to be less productive, or let things slide in some areas so you can focus more on what matters to you the most.
Here are some ways to incorporate self-care into your dramatically different life.
With our social calendars completely empty, it’s far too easy for other people to feel like they can claim your time. After all, what else do you have going on? But you can set boundaries with your co-workers, family, and friends.
Take weekends off and set an actual end time for your workday. When it’s not work time, emails and Slack messages can wait.
Zoom calls are fun, but they can get tiring, especially if you spend the entire work day on Zoom only to have back-to-back virtual happy hours from 5-7pm. It’s totally okay to limit the number of non-work video calls you attend each week. I’m experiencing Zoom fatigue in a way I never have before and I finally realized that I needed to stay away from my laptop all weekend and not schedule social Zoom activities on those days.
Ignore pressure to suddenly become a more enlightened person
If social media is any indication, we should all have color-coded closets, enough loaves of homemade sourdough bread to feed the entire neighborhood, and a fully-formed idea for a profitable side hustle.
This can be unrealistic, especially for anyone trying to work full-time while homeschooling their kids. If you want to bake, knit, draw, write, or clean out your closet, by all means, go for it! But don’t feel like you have to maximize your time at home to prove that you’re productive. Just making it through the day is productive enough.
Indulge in comforting media
Sometimes a feel-good show or movie can be exactly what you need to calm down after a long day. Pick a movie or documentary with some friends so you can discuss it with them after as part of a virtual club.
I’ve also fallen in love with my Audible membership again as well as the Libby Library app. While binging on TV shows can be satisfying in the short term, books are my refuge during this time. My secret comfort has been listening to the Harry Potter books narrated by Jim Dale. I’ve read the series a few different times but I’ve been taking comfort in this incredible narration and escaping into a magical world at the end of a long day.
Find new ways to connect with others (and yourself)
Zoom and FaceTime are ways to stay in touch, of course, but like I said, live video calls can be tough to schedule when you have other obligations. My team (Ashley Dixon and Caish Echols) are both fans of the Marco Polo app, which lets you send video messages to friends and family. Everyone can respond when it’s convenient for them, so there’s no pressure to answer the phone when you’re busy. Slow down even further with front-lawn conversations with your neighbors (from at least six feet away, of course).
I’m also partying like it’s 1999 and bringing back the good old fashioned phone call. Remember those? (Note for Gen Z: This is how your iPhone works when you’re not using it as a handheld computer). The biggest benefit is you can walk and talk. Step away from your computer and actually get outside (if it’s safe to do so where you are) and move your body. Sometimes my step goal feels like the only thing I have control over during this pandemic.
Don’t forget to get back in touch with yourself during this time, too. Journaling can be a helpful exercise, as can meditating, doing yoga, or exercising. I try to journal at least a page every day. It helps me clear my thoughts and I take a moment to write down what I’m grateful for.
Everyone is dealing with the pandemic as best they can. Be kind to yourself, and share that kindness and patience with everyone you encounter. Practice social distancing to protect yourself and others. Be friendly to essential workers, wave to your neighbors, and do your part to spread some joy in the world.
Things are operating inefficiently now, which means we need to abandon the expectation that we can get everything we want and need with the click of a button. Take that as a cue to slow down and recalibrate.