Re-Examining Self-Care A Year Into the Pandemic

photo courtesy of jeremy bishop via pexels

It feels wild that it’s been a year since shut downs, since quarantine began, since social distancing became a normal part of our lexicon. It’s been such a year and yet, it’s also only been a year. While so much has changed since last March, lately I’ve been thinking of how we’ve adjusted to taking care of ourselves through everything. After all, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you re-examine your self-care routine.

Once it became clear that our lives were taking a sudden and uncertain change, it shook me out of the way I’d been operating up until then. It forced me to look at how I was going through life – overworked, overtired, and overwhelmed – and it gave me some time to sit with myself and my thoughts.

As ugly and unforgiving as this storm has been, it’s given me a new way of looking at what it is to actually take care of myself when all the distractions are gone. It’s forced me to rethink what true self-care looks like and I hope this may inspire you to do some reflecting of your own as we examine the past year and continue to find our way through the next.

Time

Time was something I constantly felt I was lacking pre-pandemic. I was always concerned and complaining about not having enough of it to do anything I wanted. When everything shut down, suddenly that was no longer an issue.

I finally had time to do the home projects, to commit to creative pursuits, to explore new skills. I had time to do… nothing. This was so different than what I was used to. How often in my adult life have I been allowed (or allowed myself) to sit, to abandon a to-do list, to get a little bored? This boredom sparked creativity, which sparked new realizations. And those realizations helped me see that my true problem wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t have enough time, but that I wasn’t focusing the time I did have in the places I wanted.

Time has become an essential part of my self-care routine now and managing where it goes is non-negotiable. When I’m really caring for myself, I’m paying attention to where my time is going, and who is taking it. Time is valuable and precious, and I no longer want to use it in a way that doesn’t serve me.

Nurturing Connections

I am not the best at keeping in contact with people. I’m that friend who sees a text message, gets a little too overwhelmed to respond right away, forgets about it and then shamefully crawls back to apologize about not responding sooner. This is something so familiar to me, that with my closest friends I’ve been able to laugh it off and treat it like a quirk.

I am deeply introverted and don’t mind being with myself. But being at home and unable to have that in-person quality time (my favorite way of connecting) with others forced me to have an honest conversation with myself. I realized that “text anxiety” or not, what it came down to was that I was not putting effort into the connections I had with my loved ones. As time went on, I realized how restored I felt when I took the initiative to reach out to friends and family whether through Facetime, phone calls or even the dreaded texting.

Changes don’t happen overnight, and this is still something I’m working on. Still, I am much more aware than ever of how these connections keep me afloat, and I feel more dedicated to taking the time to nurture them than ever before.

Taking Time Outdoors

I’ve always been a bit of a homebody and have never felt the need to change it. But as quarantine wore on and getting outdoors for walks became more of a norm for my sanity, I started to realize that perhaps I wasn’t actually as much of an “indoors girl” as I thought I was.

I’ve been lucky enough to have in-laws who are outdoorsy and who seem to take every opportunity to get me and my husband outside. Because of that I was able to go on my favorite hike ever with them, and even agreed to go on a beach backpacking trip that ended up being one of my favorite things I did in 2020.

It’s been an interesting turn of events, becoming a mix of an indoor and outdoor person. And now I realize that the more time I spend in either environment, the more easily I’m able to appreciate the other. I think that my collection of houseplants growing quite exponentially in the past year is not a coincidence. The merging of these two identities is becoming more a part of my self-care than ever.

Slowing Down

And finally, the most important self-care revelation I’ve had during quarantine is the need to slow down.

I move so fast almost all the time, wanting to get in as much as possible, wanting to be the right level of productive and perfect, but it’s taken the past year for me to realize that not only is being in that state of on-the-go all the time detrimental to my well-being, it’s also unrealistic.

I’m trying to go less and less off of a timeline. I’m trying to make sure I’m staying in the present more. I’m trying to enjoy the ride and the process. Disconnecting, doing absolutely nothing, having unplanned days where I tell myself that if I feel happy for the day then that’s enough is the direction I’m trying to lean toward.

I’m still trying to figure out a lot of this out and putting it into practice is half the battle. As with anything there are bumps in the road here and there. But being able to define my best forms of self-care has been both empowering and so essential for getting through the past year.

So how about you? Have you had any self-care revelations in the past year? How have you been taking care of yourself? And how would you like to if you feel like you’re not?