Baby Steps Towards Self Care

By now, we’re all pretty deep into this quarantine thing, something we never expected nor planned for. It’s a time of uncertainty and prolonged isolation, which, naturally, can cause a lot of anxiety and even depression. 

As a response, social media has become flooded with inspiring self care ideas and mantras, preaching everything from productivity to exercise to making the most of your quarantine time. However, as someone who struggles with my own mental health, I know that practicing self care can be tricky, and even challenging.

If you’re anything like me, these past few weeks have been full of binge-watching, sleeping-in, bouts of worry and a general lack of energy to do, well, anything. The concept of self care has been permeating my brain like another laborious chore I have to add to my to-do list. Do I have to create a comfortable “work environment?” Should I be tackling a new chapter of my book? Am I falling behind on my skin-care routine? Sometimes, self care isn’t so easy. Sometimes, it’s hard to thinkabout having the energy or the mental capacity to even do things that are good for you. 

So, if you’re struggling from the same problems, I’ve come up with some very simple and easily achievable baby-steps to self care that you can implement into your routine during this crazy time. Remember, it’s important to take care of yourself, but self care shouldn’t feel like a burden, nor a competition. Do what makes you feel good and healthy above all else. 

1) Skip the bath, take a shower

It’s common for self-care gurus to recommend taking a bath as a way to relax and soothe your muscles and mind. But, sometimes the idea of having to draw a bath, wait for the water to fill up, and then just sit in there for a while seems like a lot of work, and maybe even…boring? If you’re a bath person, absolutely go for it. But if not, just shower instead. You’re getting even cleaner, it’s much quicker to set up, you probably have a shower routine you know in your head that you can follow, and it’s still a great way to de-stress and unwind. Plus, if you’re missing bath-bombs, you can always try shower steamers!

2) Keep a book on your night stand

Sleep is hard work sometimes. Right now especially, falling asleep can be difficult because of increased anxiety. If you’re having trouble getting sleepy at night and/or can’t seem to stop all the thoughts racing through your head, trying keeping a book or some kind of reading material by your bed. This doesn’t have to be some highly intellectual thing, either. Pick something that comforts you and transports you. Maybe it’s Harry Potter, or your favorite young adult novel as a kid. Reading, especially at night, will not only get your mind on something else, but it’ll make your eyes heavy until you finally slip into sleep mode. Plus, reading’s great for you, and much better than staring at a screen. 

3) Make coffee or tea whenever you wake up

I find that right now, making or doing just about anything makes me slightly better about myself. That includes making coffee every day whenever I wake up. I stress that last bit, because I’ve been waking up at noon, not 8 a.m. The important thing isn’t that you’re waking up early in the morning to get going, but that you get going in some capacity no matter what time of day it is. Making yourself some coffee or tea to start your day can help you feel more productive and awake (because everyone knows, even if you wake up 12, there’s a good chance you’re still tired).

4) Sit Outside 

Going on walks or out to parks is great, but for a lot of people, putting on clothing and shoes and getting out the door and into the world can feel like a lot right now. Instead, try sitting outside somewhere in the sun for a little while. You’re still getting out of the house and into nature, and it’s much easier to simply open your door than to make yourself presentable and leave your home. Trying bringing a book outside or something else to keep you occupied. You’ll feel productive for getting out of your bed and refreshed from the fresh air and sunlight. 

5) Light a candle

This one’s super easy. It may not seem like a lot, but lighting one of your favorite candles can instantly add a more relaxed feel to your atmosphere. Whether it’s a calming scent, or the relaxing sound of a crackling flame, candles are a small wonder right now. All you have to do is get up, find a lighter, find a candle, and make it happen. 

6) If it’s your thing, make a to-do list ONLY for the current day

I’ve seen a lot of pro-productivity posts on Instagram, and it can easily feel overwhelming. You may be wondering, should I be mapping out my entire quarantine work-schedule? Should I be worrying about things two weeks in advance? The answer is no, probably not. Right now, everything is easier once you decide to take it all one day at a time. If to-do lists are your thing, trying making them only for the current day. This is a great thing to do while you’re having your coffee or tea when you wake up. It may even help to plan out the time-frames of the day in which you want to do certain tasks, but if that feels too restrictive, don’t worry about it. The most important thing is to get through the day. 

7) Snuggle with your pets

If you have pets, particularly cats or dogs, now is the time to love them up like never before! Anyone that has a pet can attest to the fact that they almost instantly put a smile on your face. So if you have one, this is the time to hang out. Snuggle, pass a ball around, watch Netflix together, the possibilities are endless (and easy). 

8) Go for a drive 

I’ve been going for drives because they’re easy and require little to no effort. You don’t have to get properly dressed for a drive, go on out with your pajamas on. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to go either, just put the keys in the ignition and let your mind take you where it may. This is a great way to relax, roll the windows down (if it’s nice out), and listen to your favorite music or old CDs you found in the bottom of your glove compartment. You could even spice this up by bringing your dog along for the ride!

9) Drink some water

This one’s almost too easy. Just drink some water. Please. Get a big glass, fill it up, and drink. This takes less than a minute, and it will instantly make you feel more refreshed, a bit healthier, and certainly more hydrated. 

10) Find a new artist and binge-listen to their music

If you’re sick of binge-watching television or movies, and your eyes could use a break from all that blue-light, switch to audio instead. I’ve been listening to artists or bands that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while, binging their music while I shower or make food or sit outside. Music is a great way to relax. It’s also nice to fill the silence, especially now being stuck at home. If you have an Alexa or Google Home, you could even try playing music constantly throughout the house all day, so that things are never completely silent. 

11) Bake something

Cooking has become a popular hobby to take up during this quarantine. I love cooking, but sometimes the idea of having to prep and make a whole meal feels like a lot of work. It’s totally okay to be lazy. Instead of cooking, you could try baking. Baking is a lot of fun and it usually requires fewer ingredients than cooking a dinner with multiple components, for example. Try looking up one-bowl, less than 10 (or even five) ingredient recipes online. There’s so much you can make that is super easy and won’t have you cleaning up in the kitchen for an hour afterwards. Plus, there’s nothing like pulling out a fresh batch of homemade muffins to make you feel productive, and you get to eat!

12) Do something that makes you laugh

You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. Right now, it’s super important to not get lost in the anxiety and depression you may be feeling. Little moments of laughter and relaxation can really help, at least for a little while. Put on your favorite funny movie or that new stand-up you’ve been meaning to watch. If you miss laughing your heart out with your friends, the app Houseparty lets you group video call AND play games similar to Heads Up and Cards Against Humanity. Have some fun!

13) Sit and breathe 

Perhaps the easiest tip of all, sometimes you just have to sit down, take a moment, and breathe. Breathe, breathe, and keep on breathing. Wherever you are, whatever you may be doing, this tip is essential. So, inhale, exhale, and remember this:

You will be okay.

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