Self-care techniques to get through the pandemic

October 14, 2020 | by Carissa C. Sabal, MA, LPC, CADC

This blog was originally posted in 2020. Some information may be out of date. For the latest updates on vaccines, testing, screening, visitor policy and post-COVID support, visit EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

The changes we face from COVID-19 continue to not only surprise us, but also create increased anxiety that we never anticipated.

Parents, guardians, children and school staff are challenged with how to adapt to schooling amidst the restrictions that COVID-19 created.

The experience of e-learning in many schools was an anxiety-provoking change. Parents had to balance work (and in many cases, working from home) with overseeing their children’s school work at home. Teachers had to figure out how to navigate this new form of online teaching and ensure that the quality of learning didn't diminish.

Now that many schools have re-opened, parents and teachers are faced with new challenges that come with a COVID-19 exposure or infection. Families dealing with a COVID-19 exposure or infection must navigate quarantining and isolating at home. 

While we do what we can to manage these changes, anxiety can still creep up and take us away from the important things in our lives. How can we manage the anxiety of the pandemic?

We need to make sure we are taking time for self-care. The term “self-care” is relatively new in pop culture. The idea and definition is simple: self-care means taking care of yourself. However, it is not uncommon to be stuck on what this actually looks like for ourselves.

Self-care starts with the basics of making sure you are meeting your physical needs: eating regularly, sleeping well, and taking care of the things you need to do daily for yourself (e.g., showering, brushing your teeth, exercise). This is a good starting point when you are struggling with managing the daily to-dos or the new challenges that COVID-19 may have thrown into your day.

So, when you are having a particularly rough day with either getting the kids focused on their school work or juggling your own work, take five minutes and check in with those small things. Ask yourself “Did I eat my lunch?” “How has my sleep been?” “When can I take a shower next?” Asking these simple questions can be a way to ground yourself for a moment and check in with those basic needs.

The next step in self-care moves to your emotional needs. You can do all the basic self-care items and still struggle to manage your anxiety over how to tackle the day. This is when you need to take time (yes, time) for yourself and do even small things that will help refill your emotional battery.

Taking time out of your day for self-care can be daunting, but it’s not impossible. Think of things that can make the day a little easier and see if you can make time for even one of those things each day.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, try these emotional self-care techniques:

  • Create an organized space for learning/working separate from where the “living/relaxing” occurs in the rest of the house.
  • Take time to communicate with others about any support you need.
  • Have an open conversation with your family about everyone’s frustrations and brainstorm ideas for how to support one another.
  • Start a text message chain with fellow parents or teachers with something you are grateful for once a day.
  • End a discussion with small or big “wins” that you all feel have been accomplished or achieved for the day.
  • Find kind words to post around the house or work space that you find comforting, empowering or funny.
  • Give yourself a reward for completing a day that was especially challenging, such as ordering your favorite take-out meal or watching a movie you have been meaning to watch.

We can easily forget to do things for ourselves, especially now. When you engage in self-care, you are more attuned with not only what your body needs (basics of self-care) but also what you mentally need (emotional self-care).

Learning how to give yourself time is important. It can help you cope with the things that are going on in your life, sort of like a domino effect.

So, the final encouragement for parents and teachers — and anyone impacted by the changes of the pandemic — is to take a moment and practice self-care. Make sure you have lunch, take a nice relaxing shower, and do something that promotes your emotional needs.

 “Do not give from the depths of your well, but from your overflow.” – Rumi

If you or a member of your family would benefit from working with a therapist, please contact Linden Oaks Behavioral Health at 630-305-5027 for a free behavioral health assessment.

For the latest COVID-19 information, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

Get more information about coronavirus from Healthy Driven Chicago.

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