Right now it can be difficult to practice “Self Care” – between Covid numbers rising again, the Holidays coming up, the political and social climate, as well as a number of other things, there is so much going on for everyone to manage right now.
So rather than tell you what you “should” be doing, we wanted to give you a glimpse of how we’re trying to get through.
Here are some of the ways that your therapists at the Phoenix Counseling Collective are taking care of themselves. We are humans and have needs for self-care as well, so this list is written in first person because these are practices we are actively working on. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to create your own ideas as you read.
I’ve been going for leisurely walks. Walking around my neighborhood with my partner has been so good for me. It gets my body moving, we get some time to be alone, and we enjoy being outdoors. I think I anticipated that walking would bring these benefits, but what surprised me was how good for my soul it has been to see and say “hello” to neighbors that I don’t even know. There isn’t any conversation, but with the simple smile and a greeting there seems to be this shared sense that we are all going through the same thing together and are wishing each other well.
If walks aren’t your jam, some of us have also been enjoying bike rides, yoga, or workouts.
Gardening can look like pulling weeds, or digging in the dirt, planting, or planning. Being near the earth and spending time cultivating it can bring life inside of us even as we work with life outside of us.
This looks like taking phone calls outside when I can, sitting on my front porch, etc. Going into nature and spending time outside getting some fresh air is grounding and helps me remember to pay attention to the present moment.
Noticing nature: Sitting on the grass, observing the trees blowing in the wind, noticing how the sunlight hits the leaves of the trees, noticing the colors of the different flowers in bloom, noticing the nature around me to help ground me and also to simply enjoy.
The Headspace app is one way I can practice, or sometimes I just guide myself through noticing my body and what’s coming up for me.
Gratitude meditations can bring the focus back to some of the good things that are happening.
Being gentle with my body: Practicing flexibility and compassion with my body, especially when it comes to movement and exercise has been so good for me. There is a lot of fear and shame being put out about gaining the “quarantine-15” having a “quarantine body.” I check in with my body to see what it needs each day. Some days I will put on my favorite song and dance in my kitchen while I make dinner and that movement feels so good! Some days I will do some stretching. Some days I feel like taking a walk. Some days I will do an online workout video. Some days I will lay on the couch all day.
Being gentle with my expectations: Staying at home does not require the same dress code, the same push to get places, the same sleep schedule, the same meal schedule, the same rules as my “normal” life of working in an office and transporting kids to school and activities every day. So I have slowly released my tightly held notions of what my day is supposed to look like, what my husband and kids should be doing, and we are all much happier for it! Understanding my work/life balance is going to look different right now, I’ve been intentional about taking more breaks than usual and am scheduling less meetings so as to avoid burnout and overwhelm.
Crying is such a beautiful and natural way that our body regulates our nervous system. Sometimes I can name exactly why I am crying but other times I’m not sure why. Either way, I let myself cry until my body naturally stops (which it always does) and I always feel a sense of relief afterwards.
I find that out of my anxiety, I want to take on a project around the house, stare at my phone, or do anything to distract myself. I think that distraction has its place, and there are a couple of longstanding projects that are getting some of my attention, but constant motion can just create more anxiety. I get caught up in the idea that if I can just get one more thing taken care of, I’ll find some internal calm. But there is always something else to do or become engaged in. And so, if I just stop, sit and breathe for 10 or 15 minutes I find that my body comes to rest. I realize that I’m safe, I’m alive, and there an existential acceptance of where I am.
It isn’t exactly the same to talk with my friends via video, but making time to do this each week has been good for my soul.
Some days I just have had to cry out my sadness of cancelled plans, or not having time to myself, or not seeing special people in my life. I have also had to confront parts of myself that were hidden by the previous busyness of life, parts that feel helpless and angry in the face of daily life changing. Those are the vulnerable parts of me that busy life does such a good job covering up and hiding from myself and the world around me.
I have never done yard work or had any desire to, but I have found great pleasure in walking through my yard every day and pulling weeds. As someone who often feels in a rush, doing the simple task of standing still in one spot while watering a plant has felt almost meditative. Taking those moments to breathe, listen, and notice new things has been really peaceful.
I’m limiting myself with how much time I spend on social media. With so little real human connection right now it’s easy to turn to screens as a “quick fix”. I’ve found that comparison, loneliness, and boredom have shot up when using this medium to “connect” right now.
Communicating with my partner what sort of intentional time I need together and what time I need alone has been good for us. It has been a gift to have more time with family, but I’m choosing to opt for quality over quantity in both times of connection and time alone. This is something that requires intentionality, but is worth it.
It’s tempting to binge-watch a show, but I find that my brain and heart feel better when I get lost in a good book instead. “Good books” mean books I enjoy. It could be a book about therapy or spirituality, but I’ve also been enjoying “fluff” – fun reads that don’t make me look good or benefit my career at all, but are just for the pure pleasure of reading.
We hope that this list sparks some ideas inside of you. Self care looks different for everyone, so some of these ideas wouldn’t work well for you- that’s okay! Do what you need to do to take care of your body and soul. This helps us connect to ourselves better, and connect with those we love.
~The Phoenix Counseling Collective