By Jillian Rosandich |
The past few weeks have certainly been a change for most of us. As COVID-19 has swept the globe, we’ve all been forced to adjust to a new normal. For those that are not frontline medical professionals or other essential workers, that includes staying home as much as possible. I am not a change-averse person, and I consider myself pretty introverted as well, so battening down the hatches didn’t seem like such a stretch to me at first. However, as the weeks have worn on, I am definitely starting to feel a little stir crazy.
We have all been affected by this in different ways. Some of us have lost jobs, or worse: loved ones. Others are working from home while their children—absent from the classroom until the fall, at least—clamor for their attention. I’m sure all of us have been barraged by emails from seemingly every business with whom we’ve ever interacted on how they are managing the crisis, not to mention a slew of blog and social media posts on how to keep calm and remain productive. We are being encouraged to learn languages, reorganize our rooms, develop at-home workout routines, and tune in to Zoom webinars for book readings, sewing lessons, and digital dance parties. Many people are feeling pressured to come out on the other side of this new and improved, but I think the important thing to remember now is that there is no right way to manage our newly found free time.
Whether or not you choose to develop an intensive routine is up to you; however, I would encourage you to continue to practice self-care regardless of how you spend your days. Self-care varies from person to person, so find what feels best for you. Below, I have shared some tips I find helpful when things start feeling tough.
1. Be productive—or don’t
When the recommendation to practice social distancing was handed down to us a few weeks ago, I was a month into a newly formed exercise habit. I would dutifully check in to my bootcamp-style gym four nights a week, where I sweated through forty-five minutes of intense weights and cardio. I panicked when my gym announced it was closing indefinitely. I am the kind of person that needs accountability to stay consistent and I hated to lose it just as I had hit my stride. I felt immense pressure to develop a comparable home routine, until I realized I was putting undue pressure on myself during an already-stressful time. I stopped beating myself up over my yoga mat remaining largely untouched. I compromised with myself to take long walks when I felt like it, and soon realized that I enjoyed them so much they didn’t feel like a chore.
Right now it is fine for your goals to be simple. It is okay if getting out of bed, feeding yourself, and watching Netflix is all you can muster some days. Don’t feel guilty if you pass on participating in the push-up challenge your friend tagged you in on Instagram. Give yourself some grace to just exist. On the flip side, if you find that exercising helps you relax, then go for it!
2. Be kind to your mind
In times like these, it is easy to let our minds stew in negativity, pessimism, and hopelessness. When you start to get lost in thought, try to clear your mind and practice some deep breathing. Harvard Medical School recommends a simple two-step process to get started:
“Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
“Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of controlled breathing. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.”
Calm, the company behind the popular eponymous meditation app, has also compiled some free resources geared towards those feeling anxious due to COVID-19, including mediation, soft music, and sleep stories.
Finally, consider tuning out of the 24-hour news cycle. It is important to stay informed, but breaking news text messages and email alerts are anxiety-inducing even during the best of times.
3. Remember you aren’t alone
While now is not the time to reach out and touch someone, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and talk to your loved ones. We are all feeling a little lonely now, so most people will welcome a call, text, or email from you. My book club has started a group text chat, and we have begun watching movies together through Zoom on Sunday nights. My partner and I try to FaceTime a few times a day. My neighbors and I check-in with each other from across the street. As both an online teacher and an online student, I also want to remind you that your professors are here for you now, too.
If you would rather talk privately to an unbiased third party, the Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 from your mobile phone by texting HOME to 741741. Set up by DoSomething.org, the line is staffed by trained crisis counselor volunteers.
What are some of your favorite self-care practices? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Jillian Rosandich is a faculty member at the United States Sports Academy, where she also serves as Acting Director for the Center for Professional Studies and Continuing Education. Jillian earned her Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy and a bachelor’s degree in film and media arts from the University of New Orleans.