Nobody ever imagined that we would see a time like this.
In the middle of all the confusion as to what this virus actually is, what it means and how we can get rid of it, we cannot ignore the pain, anguish, desperation, suffocation and the last pieces of strength required to make it through another day. Measures that have been set in place by governments and global health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (at its various levels) have been really taxing on each and every single person because in their own way, they go further to narrate the severity of this pandemic. Having to keep away from loved ones because it’s the only way to keep them safe - especially the elderly- brings out a different kind of pain which is difficult; because how can you process something that you have never expressed before. The overwhelming clouding of emotions, keeping up with daily routines and hoping on every last breath that you can try to keep it together leads to extreme stress and anxiety.
It is important that we constantly watch out to others, but it’s similarly vital to remember that we also need to take care of ourselves first so that we are able to care for others especially as a parent, a care-giver and/or a front-line worker. Self-care has been a lifestyle for many, but it gained a new level of popularity over the last few years. It’s not to say that it didn’t exist previously, it seems that many people have finally realized that there is more joy in taking a water break than dying of thirst in this fast-paced world. In a nutshell, self-care revolves around taking time to take care of ourselves. Many people practice self-care in a variety of ways like; yoga, vacations, reading, engaging and heading for a day/night out, talking to a friend/loved one, among others. It is essential that we carve out time from our busy schedules to create periods where we can just relax & let go for a dedicated amount of time. These sessions have to be free of activities that have been identified as stressful, irritating, confusing or draining.
There can be voluntary and involuntary isolation where the former is practiced out of the wishes of the said individual while the latter is practiced out of a need or necessity. Introverts have been identified as a group of people or individuals who find voluntary isolation as a source of energy and renewal. Isolation can often be a positive thing when used for the right reasons but can equally be detrimental to ones’ health if used negatively. Involuntary isolation should only be administered in a situation where it’s critical, as its mainly for protection purposes. We can cite right now as a time of involuntary isolation because it is key to reducing the spread of the virus, thus eliminating it (hopefully).
How to Practice Self-Care
There are several interventions that one could utilize but I would like to focus on two main forms specifically, individual and community responses.
There is a quote/saying that goes like “nobody knows you better than you do’’. Well, from where I stand, it is debatable. Being constantly in touch with yourself and setting out spaces for discovery & review means that you find it easier to identify points that need intervention, improvement or even moments where you have attained an achievement and may need to celebrate. It’s a skill that is critical at a time like this, because in realizing what your trigger points are, you are able to pin-point remedies that will ease the effects of the identified trigger.
Some people are, to name a few:
(1) Religious/Faithful: - they find rest and strength within the holy book of faith, prayer, fasting, practices and/or sharing/fellowship.
(2) Followers of Practices: - these practices include yoga or dancing (ballet, hip-hop or choreography). Yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which includes breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures, practiced for health and relaxation.
According to GoodBody.com, Yoga is practiced by about 300 million people around the globe.
(3) Adrenaline-motivated Activities: engaging in activities that will relieve the emotions which can often be positive (lead to a change) or negative (numbing with no long-term intervention plan). It can range from stress eating, dancing, hiking, drinking, constant organizing (sometimes known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)).
(4) Shutters: These are the type of people who only know how to shut down in response. Some shut down because they truly can’t think or identify a way out while others choose to take the route in the hope that things will blow over and they wouldn’t have to necessarily put in the work to remedy the situation.
All these are remedies that people embark on to address their day to day stresses, or even larger issues that face them. As I mentioned earlier, it is key to ensure that practices are administered in a manner that isn’t unhealthy, harmful, illegal or offensive
Community response is often preferred by certain people over individual responses, due to its communal approach (providing a sense of calming environment when administered with friends or loved ones) and its principle of accountability. Being held accountable provokes the motivation needed to ensure that an individual adheres to what they need to do because they know it carries consequences. Forms of communal response include: group therapy, group activities and/or interventions.
I will share 6 tips to help ease your heart, mind and soul during such a period.
1. Explore: We have so much more time than we have ever had before. Even inside the quarantine, you can take some time out to explore. Whether you learn things about yourself, your family members, interests, the cute puppy next door or that book that you bought last year and never got to read. Invigorate your senses and learn.
2. Communicate: Stay in touch with your friends and family as often as possible. With apps like Facetime, Skype and G Hangouts, everyone feels so close yet so far. This will help ease your nerves and worries about the wellbeing of your tribe.
3. Engage: Continue to engage in activities that you would normally do but here is the twist: how to turn the outdoor ones to indoor. This is great especially if you have kids, so you can keep them busy too.
4. Meditate: Find a reliable corner and just escape every few days. You need to be in a space where you could hear yourself think and you might also need a gateway to get some things done. Whether its yoga, scripture from a holy book or affirmations, go for it.
5. Narrate: Not everyone is a creative, but I feel like this one is definitely one for the books. Expression is key when dealing with emotions in a positive manner. You could write, sing, draw or act; your imagination is the limit. Expression through creative outlets produces joy but can also cultivate a culture that will help those who wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards this to find a new and nourishing medium.
6. Presence: Be Present! Always remember that part of self-care also involves acknowledging your own presence and allowing yourself to feel, release and heal.
Depending on the severity of the situation, you don’t always have to rush to remedy. Permit the flow as it may be key to your healing, breakthrough and release. No matter how tough it gets, we’ve got each other. Life is a journey that we are taking together and you could always learn a thing or two from someone else.