There are times when it seems as if the entire world is unraveling (approximately 200,000 COVID-19 deaths; fires raging; civil unrest/protests; unprecedented corruption, polarization, and distrust; widespread food and job insecurity, etc.). We’re learning to live in an entirely new normal, and while some of us are mildly inconvenienced and fearful, others are desperate and in despair over the losses they’ve suffered.
There has never, in my lifetime, been a more important time for self-care. From activities as simple as taking a deep breath to unplugging from breaking news to going for a walk in nature to listening to calming music to venting with a trusted family member or friend, our self-care practices—once discretionary, elective credits, so to speak—are now part of our core curriculum for surviving this storm.
Here are three simple suggestions for bolstering your daily self-care:
1. Make a “No Excuses” Commitment to Take Care of Yourself
We all have unplanned crises that threaten to command our time, energy, and attention; reconfigure our priorities; and rob us of our essential need for rest and replenishment. While some of these crises are genuinely nonnegotiable and require our immediate attention, most of them can be pushed back, delegated, postponed, and even eliminated. Do not become a slave to any of the “Self-Care Saboteurs” outlined in my Handbook of Self-Care—especially guilt. Make your health a priority, put yourself first, and do whatever is necessary to keep your life in balance.
2. Put Out “the Fire” to the Best of Your Abilities
Do your best to take care of worldly matters, and then step back. In Alcoholics Anonymous, the saying “Let go and let God” as well as the well-known “Serenity Prayer” help remind us that we need to differentiate those things we can control from those that are beyond our control . . . and to know when to let go. Do your best to put out the fires in your world and then . . . let go.
3. Do Those Things That Will Make You Feel Proud about Your Place in the World
Whether dealing with the pandemic, protests, or dire poverty, our nation is standing in a moment of truth, defining who we are and who we will choose to be. The seeming indifference of some Americans to the pain and suffering of others is balanced by the compassion and mobilization of resources by others. And the passive sanctioning of racial inequalities by some of us is offset by an insistence on social justice by others as well.
There has never been a time where self-care practices have been more essential to keeping our immune systems, relationships, livelihoods, and ability to be responsible citizens strong. Please add to the above list a few things that are going to be essential to your well-being in the days, weeks and months to come. And let’s support, encourage, acknowledge, and set good examples for one another as we navigate this extremely challenging, stressful, and historically significant time in our world and in our lives.