10 Self-Care Tips During Shelter-in-Place

Wow, I’ve now lost count of the days this shelter-in-place has been going on. Since I’ve been stuck at home, homeschooling two younger kids, dealing with an uncooperative manuscript, and trying to keep a small business active, making sure I practice self-care has been vital to my mental health.

Here are my top ten recommendations:

1. Wash your hands

No surprises here. After watching all the guidelines on how to get all the parts of my hands clean, I do each motion 4 times in each direction. While quoting Hamlet’s “out, out, damn spot” might be more fun, I found that actually focusing on good hand-washing keeps me from mindlessly washing my hands and missing some of the CDC’s recommended motions.

2. Keep alcohol wipes by the door

If you have to go out for groceries, you probably take your phone with you. We keep a box of alcohol wipes, like the ones used in the doctor’s office for giving shots, next to the door and use one on our phones once we get home. Don’t forget to take your phone out of the case and wipe down the fronts and backs of both the phone and the case.

3. Take off your pajamas

I wear exercise clothes most of the day (until I actually get a chance to workout between all the kids’ calls and endless questions), then I shower and put on an actual outfit. Wearing something other than pajamas helps me feel dressed and ready to take on my day. I also find it less embarrassing if I end up on the kids’ video calls since I’m, you know, actually wearing a bra. Remember that if you’re in video conferences, you need to get dressed as if for (at least) a casual office workday.

4. Exercise

Between allergies and a disinclination toward insects, I’m not the sort to go outside for a run or a walk. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of cardio, mostly on YouTube. Dance workouts engage my mind as well as my body. My current favorites are Zumba, Pungra, and the Fitness Marshall. I like yoga too, but a wrist injury is keeping me off the mat. Getting a good sweat on helps ensure I keep moving when it’s so easy to sit around the house all day.

5. Schedule regular breaks

The Pomodoro Method is great for keeping people on task. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to stick to it given the endless homeschool interruptions. A five-minute break to refill my water cup, swap a load of laundry, or review the kids’ latest assignments (and get them yet another snack) also gets me moving out of my chair. For my husband, who’s stuck on Zoom calls all day, having a 30-minute slot scheduled means that he actually gets to eat lunch.

6. Don’t abandon healthy habits

While the temptation to snack all day or eat junk food is greater now that others are around all the time to encourage poor choices, try to stick to your regular habits as much as possible. I start my day with two cups of plain tea, either Earl Grey or a breakfast blend, and I keep a large cup of water next to my desk all day and make sure to refill it at least once. I also stick to my eating schedule, which for me is intermittent fasting broken around 1:30 or 2 PM.

7. Spend 15 minutes tidying

Seeing toys strewn about, unmade beds, or extra paperwork sitting around, especially now that I can’t go anywhere to escape seeing it all, spins me up. With everyone at home all the time, the space also gets dirtier faster than usual. Starting a 15-minute timer or a short podcast gives me just enough time to make a serious improvement to the family living space. I try to clear the sink every night so that I come down to a clean kitchen in the morning. I also hold the kids accountable for picking up their messes daily.

8. Avoid the news

I limit myself to brief updates from a single news source once a day instead of listening to the repeated doom and gloom. Seriously, what are they going to say that I can control? I’m also avoiding social media “news” posts since it’s so easy for people to spread misinformation. I do try to verify my sources if I’m sharing an article, or use a source I can trust. Recently I found some fascinating articles on the Spanish Flu as well as on the effects COVID-19 has on the body.

9. Do something for fun

A card game, a board game, a puzzle, a leisure book, an old favorite movie, an old hobby…do something to get out of your rut. While I don’t recommend sitting at a screen all day, YouTube can teach you just about anything, from crochet to drawing to piano. I’m currently learning to play some Beatles songs on a keyboard I’ve had since I was a child. I’m also trying to gather supplies from around the house to do one of those wine-and-paint evenings with my husband. I’ve been wanting to attend an in-person one for many years but perhaps now is the time, and YouTube is the place.

10. Reconnect with people

If you can meet up virtually with friends or family, reconnecting with them may be relaxing. If not, or if you’re getting a little too much family time, try playing mental bingo every time someone does that annoying thing they always do.

Post your funny quarantine moments in the comments. Together (but apart, because…social distancing) we can get through this trying time.

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