Five Self-Care Tips During & After Self-Quarantine
Updated: May 26, 2020
Intuitively, we all know what helps us - what we can do today to make it slightly better than yesterday, but we don’t always make self-care a priority. The first step to self-care is simply making time every day - setting aside ten minutes to an hour, for what revitalizes our heart, body, mind and soul. Here are my five tips for self-care.
Tip 1: Create a positive space - physically, mentally & digitally
For me, being surrounded by a beautiful, clean space creates a sense of calm and clarity. In self-quarantine, we have no control over a lot of things, but we can control how our space looks and feels.
I have never been innately organized, but a few months back, I spent three days cleaning my room and my work place, getting rid of clutter I had held onto for years. With each item, I asked myself if it brought me joy (very “Marie Kondo” of me) - not in the past, not in my memories, but joy in this present moment. If it didn’t make me happy right now and I didn’t have any real use for it, I learned the beauty in letting go of it. In the following weeks, I applied the same mindset to clean out my phone apps, my computer files and my Spotify playlists, finding the end result to be very transformative and therapeutic.
Our space reflects our minds, our thoughts. By decluttering my surroundings, I allowed myself the space to grow and breathe a little more freely. That fresh start is something we all deserve, especially now.
We spend a significant time in digital space, and we can control what kind of energy surrounds us there. It is important to follow social media accounts that inspire us and lift our mood. Though there are benefits of social media, there are also several dangers: it is easy to get lost in the noise, to compare yourself with the best version of people presented on social media. But there is no competition; we are already good enough.
Remember that you are allowed to be selective with what you invest your time and emotions in.
Instagram: Here are a few accounts you can follow that will feel like one big, digital hug. thegoodquote, yogainspiration, blogilates, najwazebian, emotions_therapy, myselflovesupply, thehappyslothclub, elephantjournal,_mindfullyfresh, areyouokcampaign, humansofny, theeverygirl, sunnybloominspiration, adrienelouise, unplugmeditation.
Youtube: I came across Marie Forleo recently, a motivational speaker and the web television host of MarieTV. On MarieTV, you can find short inspirational videos on just about any topic you can think of - if you’re ever feeling stuck, Marie Forleo’s the person to go to. Lavendaire posts lovely videos on topics such as self-care, self-love and self-growth, and Girl and the Word’s soothing voice and soulful message will soften your heart any day.
With that said, it’s okay to periodically unplug from social media and technology. You have permission to disconnect, take a break and quiet your mind. To return to the outside world when you’re ready.
Tip 2: Disconnect from the noise & lean into the quiet
One of my favorite writers Anne Lamott wrote: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including yourself.” Disconnecting and de-stressing can mean something different for everyone. But what it really means is to check in with yourself, to practice self-love, to put your hand on your heart and to ask yourself: what do I need right now? And to always honor that. Make a commitment to always honor where you’re at - whatever that may be.
Honoring yourself could be reading ten pages of a novel before you sleep, meditating for five minutes when you wake up, getting slow, easy movement through a short yoga practice on your lunch break, or going on a walk or bike ride on a beautiful, sunny day - a breath of fresh air, the wind in your hair, the flowers blooming. Whatever it is, trust that this time is valuable, and all yours.
Tip 3: Practice Mindfulness
A popular meditation app, “Headspace” defines mindfulness as “the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment - free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feeling without getting caught up in them.”
Mindfulness is having a conversation with a friend and listening without getting sidetracked and planning your next meal. It is noticing your mind wander and letting the thoughts pass by, one by one, without attaching or investing in them. Mindfulness is saying: “It can wait,” when your phone buzzes with a text message, but you are in the middle of driving. It’s noticing the sound of laughter, the explosion of colors in the sky, the sweetness of a taste, the smell of lavender, and the touch of love.
Mindfulness is also a practice that takes time and patience. It is hard to not plan our next step when our to-do list appears endless, and it is hard not to think about what’s haunting us from yesterday. Our culture is driven by hustling and multi-tasking, which can increase stress, cause anxiety and steal from our present day joy. Practicing mindfulness can help ground us and bring us back to what matters most: the here and now.
Apply this Mental Checklist:
Remember that you don’t have to sit down and meditate to practice mindfulness - you can practice mindfulness in almost everything you do normally, including when you walk, talk, eat, and work. Remember that it’s okay and perfectly normal for your mind to wander - know you have the power to bring yourself back. Here’s a quick mental checklist to run through:
Connect to your breath: Close your eyes, put one hand on your heart, the other hand on your belly and take three deep breaths. “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts,” Thich Nhat Hanh writes in “The Miracle of Mindfulness.”
Connect to your surroundings and your senses: Notice what you see around you. Notice the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes - the overall feel, without reacting.
Connect to yourself: Are you in the present moment, or are you getting distracted by thoughts about the past or future? If a thought comes, acknowledge it: “I am feeling anxious about my presentation.” Thich Nhat Hanh says “to acknowledge it is enough. Don’t dwell on it or try to get rid of it. Don’t chase after your thoughts as a shadow follows its object. Live this actual moment. Find joy and peace in this very moment.”
Tip 4: Develop a Growth Mindset
For anyone who can relate, a fixed mindset is when we box ourselves in and believe and decide that we can’t learn something before we even try, avoiding certain paths and choices in order to play it safe. Having a fixed mindset is when the voices of self-doubt, self-deprecation, anxiety, and judgment consume us, long enough to prevent us from taking that next step we need most to reach our full potential.
What are we so afraid of? Is it the fear of failure? Of not being good enough? Of what people will think if we mess up? Of appearing stupid? Of not being perfect? The problem is when we live our lives through a fixed mindset, we are living in constant fear - and living in fear is only half living (like the quote, “vivir con miedo is como vivir a medias”). Whether we realize it or not, our fixed mindset shuts out the real world. Every day, it blocks out experiences, conversations and opportunities that could help us learn, grow and evolve - to ultimately become better versions of ourselves.
Change your perspective.
Understand the difference between a growth and fixed mindset and where you fall: People with a growth mindset are resilient - they are open to new experiences and challenges and are not defined by their failure. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to learn, to get better. They believe that their abilities can be developed through hard work, strategies, mentoring and lots of help, Dr. Carol Dweck, the creator of the theory, explains. It’s the “power of yet” - “I haven’t done it yet, but I can in the future.” Nothing is impossible to them or unattainable.
Believe you can: The simple choice to believe in yourself is what sets a growth mindset apart from the defeatist fixed mindset. People with a growth mindset don’t stand in their own way, but they make the decision every day to try and see what happens.
Tip 5: Connect to People Who Lift You
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, who see your worth and true self. In her book “Daring Greatly,” Dr. Brené Brown writes: “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with the people who have earned the right to hear them.”
Reach out to people who love you and support you. “Empathy: the best reminder we’re not alone; it’s connection, a ladder out of the shame hole. Empathy is connecting with the emotion someone is experiencing, not the event or circumstance. Shame is dissipated the minute I realized I wasn’t alone and that my experience was human,” Brené says.
Self-care is calling a close friend when you feel vulnerable and having the courage to be honest about your feelings. It’s knowing who to trust and who is on your side. It’s knowing you are never alone, but you’re just a phone call, a text message, a Moth podcast, TedTalk, a Yoga with Adriene video away from connection.