I would like to open by saying that the relationship we build with ourselves can sustain us for the duration of our lives and it is for this reason that we must nurture it. Your ability to be in relationship with others is inextricable from your ability to be in relationship with yourself because it is precisely how we learn to do so. Protecting yourself, honouring yourself, doing the best you can for yourself – this is all necessary. And this doesn’t mean that you will always be able to do everything that you want or need for yourself, but it means that you recognize the importance of caring for others as it starts with caring for yourself.
One thing I like to ask myself is, what are my needs today and how can I meet them?
Quarantine is not easy! Being isolated and homebound is not easy on the body, mind, heart, or spirit. We are social creatures who require human contact to feel whole. When I feel overwhelmed by the situation I am facing, I find it helpful to divide my needs into categories. Different needs require different kinds of attention. For example, if I feel lonely, I may need to coordinate a way to connect with a friend. This can happen over a phone call, a video call, a letter-writing activity, text messages. It can also happen by looking up people on Youtube or other social media who share some of my identities and experiences so that I can feel myself reflected back at me, which disrupts isolation and fosters a sense of community.
When I am feeling anxious, on another hand, it might be helpful to find ways to distract myself. A movie marathon or a puzzle might do the trick! For some people, this may require some grounding techniques (which we will share with you later on) or some physical exercise. Whatever you can do is good; it’s important not to shame yourself for behaviour that falls outside of your regular routines. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you are facing an unprecedented challenge. While endlessly scrolling through social media might not always be the most nourishing activity, it is okay if you don’t feel capable of much else. Do what you can. Try to switch it up when you are able to.
Since many of us no longer have our days structured by outdoor responsibilities (such as work, school, faith communities, sports, etc) it can be easy to fall into routines that don’t work for us over the long term. Making daily promises to yourself and then keeping them is a way of building trust with yourself. This trust is the most important relationship, and the goal of self-care.
I like to think about meaning. How can I make my day meaningful? It is perfectly understandable to feel helpless and hopeless given the state of the world. How are we to cope in the face of so much grief, fear, and loss? Keep in mind that things like community engagement and service don’t have to disappear just because you’re spending more time at home. You might be able to volunteer remotely, by writing letters (or random internet posts that might be useful to people), by preparing care packages, or in some other way I can’t even fathom. You also might be someone who finds meaning in something less community-based, like working toward a goal. You get to define meaning for yourself. And you get to do so each new day that you are alive. The important thing to remember is that you matter. Your life matters- and you can find a million ways to show that to yourself.