»I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain. The intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain,” Audre Lorde
This text is trying to provide some insights and thoughts about how to practice self care in the time of the pandemic. By keeping in mind that we are in the same storm but not in the same boat. It is a reflection of personal experience.
If you feel that reading this text may overwhelm you and you decide not to read it or you will read just part of it – that is ok. That is the act of great self care.
The time of pandemic did affect us all. I think that it is important to be conscious of the fact that the lockdown wasn’t a vacation. For some of us it meant that we started to struggle because we lost our job, couldn’t afford to pay rent, had to watch kids 24/7, lived in an unsafe environment with a partner or family, lacked a support system, maybe someone we care about got ill or died.
The flood of numerous ideas how to be effective and productive during the lockdown, messages that we have time for things that we usually don’t have time for can be misleading and can provoke pressure. Having more time doesn’t automatically mean that we must be more productive, this is an inappropriate and terrible capitalistic expectation. Lack of understanding that we do not have the same ability and capacity to function in these times and are experiencing a more emotionally intense period, can do us harm. It is completely understandable that we may lack the energy to do basic things, even to wake up in the morning. And it is ok. Sadly, this is not a vacation.
To feel safe and ok, we need sense of stability and the feeling that we are in control of our lives. We need the feeling that we can be certain about things that matter to us to be able to feel safe. Because of all uncertainties that we are facing and threat that is big and worldwide, the feeling of our basic safety and control can be in danger. I am wondering how can we manage to feel secure just a little bit more than we do and how we can survive until the next day. Cause sometimes this is all we need to do.
We have the right to lower our expectations of ourselves. We may struggle with that but let’s keep in mind that our lives have changed dramatically. It is completely understandable if we feel that we are unable to perform all activities and tasks that were our routine before the pandemic. If you can, try to imagine a friend that has just experienced a big trauma in their life – what would you recommend to them? Would you suggest some time to recover, be in peace, take care of themselves and be gentle to themselves, seek for some support? Can you imagine that friend is you?
Acknowledging that we are going through a difficult time may help us understand why we are feeling the way we are and is a good starting point to embrace ourselves and try to take care for ourselves.
Our future is even more unpredictable than before. We have a hard time to feel the continuum cause we don’t know how the world will look tomorrow. That is why it is important that we try to reach up as far as we can. This can be our present day, our simple chores. Maybe trying to keep up with the routine of taking care of our hygiene. Maybe this would mean keeping the routine of showering every day and wearing fresh clothes – even if we are staying at home all day. Maybe we are in a place where it is an accomplishment if we brush out teeth everyday. And that is ok. Whatever works for you and gives you a feeling that you have done something outside of a pattern that you are experiencing lately is great. You can be proud of yourself! Let’s try to work with what we have – this day. Let’s try to take one day at a time.
We may experience some strong and intense emotion or emotions that last longer than we are used to. Our lives have changed and also our ways of finding relief are different. Maybe before we went out with friends, went for a ride, planned a vacation or went to hike, meet with our fellow activist, had meetings with our support or self-help group…all that helped us cope with feelings. Now, if these activities are reduced to a minimum or totally gone, we stay with our feelings alone and they accumulate. What is added is also the feeling of uncertainty. That is a perfect formula for an emotional ticking bomb. So, let’s try to understand that and give ourselves more space, understanding and tenderness. Let’s try to talk to someone about that. Let’s try to find some coping mechanisms that will help us in this situation and are possible to apply in this specific period. Our internal compass can indicate what it is-whatever and whoever gives us the opportunity to breathe and relax.
Our abilities are reduced when we are under lots of stress. Let’s try to think that in these times, less is more. If the circumstances allow us, let’s stop adding demands to our everyday life. The situation itself is already a hard process. So if we manage to do our basic chores for the day, this is already ok. Maybe we can reduce and take away things that produce additional pressure and anxiety. Let’s give ourselves permission to listen to our feelings and to follow them. This could help us go through the day. And this is enough.
Remember: you are doing the best that you can. Give a hug to yourself for that.