Gentle Ways to Care for Yourself During the ‘New Normal’. Now that we’re adjusting – a little – to the reality that working from home, homeschooling, not working, missing friends, missing family, reconnecting via other ways, and thinking to ourselves “If my husband makes that noise one more time…” Wait. Is that last one just me? Never mind. But it all adds a slightly surreal quality to our navigation in the ‘New Normal.’ But it seems likely that you’re still the lynchpin that keeps everyone together. Are you feeling the strain?
I know, you’ve heard this before, but it’s true that if you don’t care for yourself, no one else will. Then we either crash from exhaustion and stress or feel bitterly resentful that “we do everything!” Here’s some simple principles to keep while battling a million different challenges.
Gentle Ways To Care For Yourself During Busy Times
Say no to anything that is not important to you
Laundry, phone calls with your mom, demanding girlfriends – this is not the time to be nice and “responsible.” Give yourself the permission to focus on what’s important. Getting the unessential responsibilities off your schedule will not only create some extra time and space, it will also lighten the burden you’re feeling to keep up with it.
Listen to your favorite music
I’m a little biased here, based on my career, but music can lift the spirit, calm the soul and cleanse anxiety. Don’t underestimate the value of the right music to guide you through your day.
Ask for help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and you’ll quickly learn that most people around you actually love to be asked! It makes them feel useful and important. What usually helps the most is to get help to do the normal things; cooking, shopping and regular everyday tasks. However, don’t underestimate how important the people in your life can be when it comes to feedback, motivation and supporting your self-confidence regarding the important work you’re doing.
Get enough sleep
I know you hear this so much that it’s likely really annoying at this point. But this old advice is not only essential when it comes to self-care, it is also absolutely essential when it comes to being able to do your best. Particularly important when it comes to exam periods and work stress. It’s easy to think that a few extra hours of work will do you more good, but it won’t. Sleep will.
Make a plan of everything that needs to be done
Instead of juggling all your to-do’s and must-remember’s, write them down on a piece of paper. Then make a plan of how you are going to manage everything before your deadline. Tackle the most stressful ones first. For me, that’s calling clients. I don’t know why, but I’ll avoid this extremely important element for as long as possible- while stressing about it the whole time. You may have to schedule a lot of tasks on certain days, and it may seem like too much to do, but at least you’ll know that everything will get done. Make sure you stick to the plan, every single day. Don’t fall for the temptation to start on tomorrow’s tasks today, trust that the plan will take you there, and enjoy some free time on the days when you finish your tasks early.
Write things down
I am of the belief that as adults, our brains fill up right to the top and stuff starts spilling over. This is why I can’t tie my shoelaces or remember how to work a doorbell. So I write everything down. On my phone, the back of my hand, it doesn’t matter. This way, I don’t have to carry the additional stress of remembering everything I need to remember.
You might be busy and think that every minute is valuable time to put into your work, but some extra minutes of walking might be a better way to spend some time. If you live close to where you’re going, it’s better to walk than to use your car. Not only will you enjoy a nice endorphin rush and the self-satisfaction of being all healthy, you also get some important fresh air and daylight. I have a few loops along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (a wonderful series of trails and switchbacks only 10 minutes out of the city) that I plod along like a draft horse. I get so much thinking done!
Make sure you keep in touch with your friends
Just a few text messages, tweets or the occasional Skype session will make sure your friendships don’t suffer. You will feel much better when you focus on something else entirely, and it will prevent you from becoming a workaholic hermit. You don’t have to keep in touch with everybody, most people will understand that you’re having a busy period. Just make sure you stay in touch with the people that make you happy and inspired.
Make room for rest
This one’s important. Make sure that whenever you plan to rest – really rest. That means that you will have to make a conscious effort to push all work-related thoughts and worries away. It’s also important that you rest your mind as well as your body. 5 minutes of stillness is better than 30 minutes in front of the TV!
Surround yourself with inspiring photos
This can be a formal Vision Board if you have the room or the inclination, or simply photos that matter to you taped to a computer monitor, in a pretty frame or even a screen saver of all your favorite images from Pinterest- I love this option because I create a rotating series of inspiration boards to keep me going.
Write a daily gratitude list
A daily gratitude list is really helpful to shift your focus and help you appreciate the situation. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, a few sentences will do. If you keep a gratitude journal, you can also look back on your previous entries whenever you need a little boost of happiness and motivation.
Wear your pretty clothes
Don’t save the cute new shirt for “something special,” you needing to feel good is THE “something special.” With your most powerful, wonderful and pretty clothes on, you’ll feel like a goddess for the rest of the day.
Take a hot bath
This is my go-to when it’s been a really rough day. I don’t know if I get any thinking done while I’m prone with a washcloth over my face and the bathroom door locked so my son can’t keep stumbling in. But after, I’m limp and relaxed enough to sleep, whether I want to or not. Plus, an evening bath may be the best way to relax because of this simple fact – you can’t take your work and your computer with you.
Accept a little clutter and mess
Some dust and a little dirt have never hurt anyone. Focus on what’s important to you, you can always clean up the mess later. (I would like to point out this bit of wisdom has a caveat: This only works if you can overlook it, like The Todd, I will only add the mess to my spiraling anxieties and it only gets worse. You know your comfort level.)
Do something silly
Most people would interpret this as an elaborate gag or practical joke. I simply learned a pile of really lame knock-knock jokes. They still crack everyone up, maybe simply because they are so stupid. (Editor’s note: there’s a big ol’ bunch of them right here.)
It sounds counterintuitive, but reach out and connect
(image credit: Pexels)