I just got back from a nice long walk with a neighbor. And believe it or not, I took another hour-long walk earlier today with a friend from another neighborhood. It’s a beautiful sunny day today but tomorrow is the beginning of a 10-day cold front.
So like a squirrel saving up nuts for winter I felt the need to stock up per se, on sunshine, movement, and friendship.
Did we stay six feet apart? I’m not going on record…but let’s say outside, no contact, I’m not worried.
Stress Mastery Versus Self-Care for Anxiety
During the pandemic, self-care is definitely having its heyday and has been very popular in the mainstream. Often when I see “self-care” recommendations, I feel like sometimes they are self-ish.
Intellectually, I know that it’s not. I know taking care of oneself as a parent especially, is very important for the well being of the whole family. There’s just something about that term self-care that I don’t love.
I do prefer the stress mastery term “recharge.” We all know we have to fuel our gas tanks in our vehicles and recharge our phones and devices in order for them to perform well for us. It does make sense that we would need to fuel and recharge our systems physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in order for them to work well for us and our families.
But going to get a massage, having a ladies night or a pedicure, and many other “self-care” techniques are off the table during this shelter in place time what’s a mom to do?
Who needs a recharge break?
The Challenge of Self-Care During Quarantine for a Social Being
Here’s the truth. Humans are definitely social beings.
Even most introverts, I know will admit that they need some human contact and conversation, typically just in smaller groups and or less quantity than the extroverts.
I remember hearing a fascinating fact about humans as animals on a Broken Brain podcast. The interview guests talked about zebras, and how, when a lion or other threat is evident, the entire herd of zebras begins to move as one. They don’t need verbal communication, to know when and where to run. They just do it.
He said that humans have the same tendency that when we are physically together in community, there’s a sort of interpersonal, non-verbal physical communication that transpires. I was fascinated by this.
I remember opening up our Bible study one year, sharing that anecdote and talking about how important it is that we gather as a community in-person to study the Word and edify one another as Christian women, and yet here we are only able to have community through zoom and live streams on YouTube.
I predict that this physical isolation will have some dire negative effects on the mental health of the entire world. Time will tell.
I’m so grateful that technology allows us to still connect with our community even though we can’t gather in person.
I feel that isolation points to the need for self-care, stress mastery recharges, whatever you want to call it, even more. We need to be even more intentional about making sure we are creative about making self-care happen.
Stress Mastery Begins With the Basics
Yes, you should take care of yourself in all the regular ways: eat whole foods with lots of nutrients, sleep seven to eight hours, get some regular movement and do whatever you can to reduce your stress.
Wish you could control your stress instead of feeling like it’s controlling your life, your sleep, and your temper?
Women react to stress differently than men and need special strategies!
I was certified as a Stress Mastery Educator for this very reason – so I could bring HOPE to moms like me feeling like life is getting the better of them (and in my case, getting very angry about it).
This course is VERY quick, consumable, and full of support to make it work in your busy life!
Build the “new, calmer you” in just a few minutes a day… CHECK OUT THE COURSE HERE
However, I submit that even in normal times, that’s not really enough for a fully healthy psychological and emotional state. In these times, of fear, uncertainty, and isolation, I strongly encourage you to fit in one extra special recharge break every single day.
Here are some ideas for self-care recharge breaks during quarantine.
1. Get outside
If you can get outside definitely try to take advantage of that every day even if it’s cold. We know that the immune-boosting benefits of vitamin D from the sun are proven and also that simply being in nature has a calming effect on a human being.
Some call it earthing. Others just call it relaxation.
Even when the weather is bad, it still helps to get some fresh air. If you can’t get outside, make sure you’re moving around your house, open windows if the weather permits, try to sit in a sunny window, and if all else fails, at least take a vitamin D supplement, which can be mood-enhancing.
2. Self-Care During Quarantine DIY Pamper Yourself Spa Day
You may not have much discretionary income right now to be ordering fancy scrubs, but you can make them at home with just a bit of sugar, oil and essential oils. (Even if you don’t have any essential oils there are some other ways to add a little fun aroma.)
If you have kids, it’s a pretty fun project to do together. Assemble the scrubs and then have a mini pamper session for five minutes and use a scrub on your hands. There’s a recipe in this post.
Inhale the essential oils and come out of the bathroom feeling refreshed even in the midst of chaos.
Or you can have a spa evening. Light some candles and do a foot scrub, hand scrub or full body scrub and take a bath.
You know that feeling when you leave a massage and you’re all oiled up and super relaxed? You can pretty much get there all on your own with homemade scrubs.
3. Learn Massage for at Home Self-Care
Speaking of that massage feeling why not replicate that at home?
I hear from a lot of wives that their husbands just don’t understand how to give a good massage. And I know a lot of guys complain that their wife’s hands just aren’t strong enough to make them really feel good and relaxed.
For quite a few years now my husband and I have used the Melt couples massage videos.
We’ve learned some great techniques and one of the goals of the videos is to give a great massage without tiring out your hands or needing a ton of hand strength. I’d say they definitely meet that goal!
The teacher is a trained massage therapist who has worked with celebrities for years. He made a beautiful (and clean) video series with five minute, 15 minute, and 30 minute massages.
I love that Dennis even talks about the health benefits of giving your kids a little massage and how they can be both for family togetherness and couple togetherness. It’s definitely a recharge opportunity.
4. Recharging Alone…Even When You’re Together
I mentioned introverts earlier and I think introverts are struggling more than others with this, but all people need a little alone time to recharge. Depending on how many people you have in your household and how much square footage you’ve got to share, this can be a real challenge.
If you’re feeling that oppressiveness of “everyone is around all the time” it’s important that you are intentional about taking some alone time. You may need to even schedule certain times each day for different family members to have some time.
If it takes explaining to your kids that if your bedroom door is closed they are not to enter, just so that you can get 20 minutes to read an inspirational book or fill out a gratitude journal or just sit and be and think, then that’s important for you to do. You might take a walk by yourself, get up a little earlier to enjoy the quietude of the house.
Or make sure you have some time before bed in separate rooms from your spouse. Everyone will have different tolerances for together time and alone time and different needs and it’s important to look at your whole family and really assess who needs what and make sure that they are getting that yourself included!
5. Seeking Normalcy on the Outside
Everything feels crazy right now, both in the outside world, in our homes and probably inside your brain.
My team recommended that I include the idea of doing things to make yourself feel like it’s a normal day. For example:
- Get dressed in real clothes
- Do your hair and makeup
- Paint your nails or toenails. (This is great for kids as well. Here are some natural nail polishes that tested well on little girls.)
- Take a shower.
I personally think it’s quite lovely to have no make-up days. Although I will admit that sometimes those are the days where I feel a bit unproductive and may tend more toward negativity. So perhaps there’s something to be said, for the fact that doing live interviews at least forces me to put makeup on a few times a week.
It’s something to try and you can always still wear slippers, and pajama pants on the bottom, even if you’re looking all professional on the top.
6. Be Intentional About What You’re Letting In
This is another great recommendation from my team spinning off of what I’ve been telling people about the detriments of the news and social media, especially for a highly sensitive person.
It’s important to give your brain a break from the negative for your mental health.
Try to incorporate these practices:
- Set aside specific times to look at the news or just ask someone else to let you know if something happens you need to know about so that you can avoid the news entirely (this is my strategy)
- Make specific times for social media or delete the apps entirely if you find you’re getting drawn in to feeling depressed
- Be careful not to read too many conspiracy theories, especially right before bed
- When you chat with friends on the phone, or across the fence, you may want to set a limit of perhaps half your conversation maximum being about world events
For example, when I went for that walk with a friend, we walked half an hour in one direction, and when we turned around, I said, “Now we have to talk about something positive!”
We used some youth group style conversation prompts like “what was your first childhood memory?” or “what people were important to helping you build your faith?” We had a great conversation, some laughs and came back feeling refreshed.
These worksheets can help you get started on some intentional self care.
7. Is Wine a Good Way to Wind Down?
This is a pretty serious question in these times because we know that a lot more people are drinking alcohol and even using some stronger substances to take the edge off or figure out how to calm down at the end of the day.
We know that alcohol depresses the immune system and adds an extra burden to your liver.
So if you’re going to get sick, steadily drinking alcohol is a bad way to get your system ready to fight off a virus. We also don’t really want to teach ourselves that we need something external just to get through the day, right?
So I would recommend two things if you love a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Number one, set aside some alcohol free times. It could be every weekday, three days a week, certain times of your cycle, whatever works for you. Make sure you have some days of absence, just so that you are more creative in dealing with the stressful things in life. This will also give your liver a chance to rebound and build your own self-discipline, which is certainly a helpful virtue to have at any time.
Number two, if you do drink, keep it clean. We know that red wine is packed with antioxidants so at least there are some health benefits to it over hard liquor for example. Even among wines, there are many that have artificial harmful additives and or are packed with pesticides, creating a further burden on your total toxic load.
Dry Farm Wines is reporting an uptick in sales right now which makes sense because they’ll deliver right to your door and they offer incredibly clean independently tested wines grown without pesticides. They’re also keto-friendly, low carb friendly, and headache-free.
Bottom Line: You Can do This Mamas
I know for some of us, this feels barely different than the norm as far as being home a lot and enjoying our children.
For others, you’re at your wit’s end and can’t imagine how this could go on for another week! (Nevermind a month or more!)
But you were made to do hard things. You can do this.
I encourage you to identify places you are struggling with your mental health or your tolerance of the people around you and do some creative troubleshooting, using sleep, exercise, nature, alone time and creative self-care during the quarantine.