“Take care of yourself and others” is a message I repeatedly hear on the news and commercials. Good advice especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But what is meant by self-care?
Self-care is, “Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.”1
We all arrived to today through different journeys. For some, shelter at home means balancing work and family while for others it means no work at home due to job loss and everywhere in between.
By now you’ve probably tried some different things to make shelter at home easier. Some of the ideas worked while others were a huge flop. Enough time has gone by that its opportune time that we look at what is working for us and our loved ones and what’s not working.
Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee from Psychology Today states, “It’s important to do an evaluation of our daily and weekly patterns and see where our behaviors are helping us or hurting us. Once we’ve done this, we can begin to consider what habits need breaking and what new norms might help us in this next part of the journey.”2 Habits I needed to break were having time being bored with nothing to do, sleeping in late, and consuming too much news on the pandemic.
Dodgen-Magee goes on to suggest, “It’s always easier to establish healthy norms than it is to break bad habits.”2 Once we’ve developed a bad habit, it takes time to change the habit. It’s easier to establish a new habit than change a bad habit?
During my Peloton beginners bike riding class I take, the trainer talks about the importance of drinking water. Honestly, I drink way more soda than water. So, I’m replacing my soda with water. When I drink my daily allotment of water, I then can drink one soda. Most days now I don’t even want the soda. I’ve been able to replace a bad habit with a good habit. What about you? What bad habit do you need to get rid of? What new habit would be beneficial?
Another suggestion in Psychology Today is, “Ask yourself what activities are life-giving and self-soothing to you and schedule them on your calendar.” What have you found that gives you energy and sense of purpose? After lots of blank calendar days I realized I needed to have more structure to my day. One idea I’ve done that is life-giving is calling people I haven’t talked to in a while. At first, I was a little hesitant, but then I thought, if that person called me, I would be happy to hear from them. So, I’ve been calling. Many phone conversations last an hour. We’re connecting which is life-giving.
What’s working for you today during the pandemic?
- Fact Sheet Nine: What is Self-Care? September 2013. https://static.virtuallabschool.org/atmt/self/FC.Self_3.Environment_A1.WhatIsSelfCare.pdf
2. A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020,
Image source: illustration-of-light-bulb-concept-of-new-ideas [Pikrepo.org]