Dear Auntie Alfawhore,
There’s no other way to put this: I’m really struggling with this mandatory quarantine. My anxiety levels are through the roof, and sometimes I feel like I’m spiraling out. You’ve talked about self-love before, but I was wondering if you had any specific tips for practicing self-care in this strange time we’re living in.
Tweakin’ at home.
First, a confession: I’m writing this at 9am on the day it was due. I know that I should have started sooner. As you can see, you’re not the only one struggling. We are most certainly living in a surreal moment, in which our sense of time feels loose at best. For me, a person who feels most comfortable when she is barreling along at 100km a second, juggling a thousand tasks at once, regular self-care and self-love practices have always been a challenge. But this sudden standstill has had me crawling out of my skin, much sooner than I would like to admit.
And so, after a few failed attempts to tackle this thing on my own, I turned to my friends at La La Lista for help. (Tip #1: Talk to your friends!). And here is what we came up with:
“I’ve been running up and down the stairs in my house while listening to podcasts. I know it sounds a little nuts, but the movement and sweating has done wonders for my mood.”
When this thing started, I tracked down an 80s workout video that my mom used to do for its combined nostalgia and vapor-wave soundtrack (not to mention the incredible leotard color scheme). There are a million videos online for guided workouts, and if any of your friends or acquaintances are fitness or yoga instructors, it’s highly likely they’re providing classes online and could use the income. But if you’re not into that kind of thing, I highly recommend cranking some tunes and dancing like nobody’s watching (except for your cat). Because they aren’t. Unless your roommate is making pasta. Then he might get an eyeful. Sorry bud.
Revisit old hobbies:
“I’ve been dedicating some time to those things I had abandoned; like learning a language.”
“I personally feel like this is the time I pick up those creative projects i never actually did anything about — embroidery, painting, drawing — whatever’s laying in a drawer after that one workshop I took.”
Whether you decide to get crafty, or go the edification route, there’s never been a better moment to try something for a second time, especially if you already have the tools to do so at home. My previously abandoned hobby of choice? Keeping my plants alive. Wish me luck.
Unplug! (at least for a bit):
“I have been trying to spend a few hours everyday with my phone turned off. Like putting in my bedside table drawer. It’s helping me from obsessively being on Twitter.”
Studies have shown that disconnecting from the news (not from each other!) is crucial to keeping our sanity intact. Meditate. Collage. Read a book. Try a new recipe. Journal. Practice your instrument. Write a poem, or a song. You might be shocked by what comes out when you give yourself the quiet, uninterrupted space to create something new.
“I’ve been Skyping with people I truly care about, with whom I haven’t talked in a while because…life. It’s interesting how we reconnect in this “disconnection.”
As I mentioned before, just because we have to maintain our physical distance doesn’t mean we can’t connect with each other virtually, and there’s never been a better time to do it. Just yesterday I Facetimed with an older relative that I had fallen out of touch with, and it was truly the highlight of my week. Reach out. I promise you won’t regret it.
“I made my boyfriend do an egg face mask with me today. Do not recommend the method I used as it did not peel off however my skin does feel f**kin’ smooth. We’ve played lots of cards and are cooking a ton. I think self care is just that, doing what you need to do. My favorite form of self care is jumping in bodies of water, but turning music up really loud and sliding around the floor in socks is an alternative that keeps me sane.”
In addition to these lovely ideas, I’d also like to suggest multiplayer online video games. If you’re not a gamer, per se, there exist excellent digital equivalents of casual party games. I tried the The Jackbox Party Pack with some friends Friday night and we had a blast.
“I emptied my closet — got a lot of clothes to donate. And now I am rearranging my room. One of my best friends is stranded in Mexico; tidying up my house was the only thing that made me feel like I controlled something.”
There is truly something therapeutic about cleaning your house during this time, especially when it comes to tackling that closet re-organization or that problem drawer in your house. For one, as our contributor noted, you’re exerting control over your environment. Secondly, I like to think that any overhauls or improvements in our living spaces aren’t just for the moment, they’re done with the knowledge that we will, someday, return to our “normal” lives. And our day-to-day will be better for it. Consider it a gift from present you to future you.
Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself when you have less productive or more anxious days than others, and try to start fresh the next day. Create schedules, if you find that helpful. Play with your pets, if you have any. Embrace gratitude. Pretty much everyone reading this is lucky to have not yet contracted the virus, and hopefully won’t. We all have roofs over our heads, and internet connection (for now), and can freely communicate with each other.
We’re going to get through this ok. We’re all in this together.