COVID-19 Self-Care – by Kayla Madder

2020… what a wild ride! COVID-19 has brought us a world full of new challenges and unknown outcomes. So many things are up in the air that it’s hard to find much that we have an answer for anymore, which can be overwhelming to say the least. More than ever, self-care should be at the forefront of our minds, but it’s probably not. We are too busy taking on new tasks and responsibilities and being overcome with worry and change.

I hope in reading this you can shift your gaze back to self-care, because at a small level it’s something we actually can have control over. Our wellbeing as Mothers is crucial right now, for us and for our families. Here are a few more self-care tips I’ve been thinking about with respect to our current times:

Low or no expectations

Something I often tell my doula clients is to keep low or no expectations for themselves as far as accomplishing tasks, taking on responsibilities, etc during the postpartum period because there are so many unknowns during this time (recovery, sleep, nutrition, and so much more). We now are living in an epic “time of unknowns” so I think the best self-care you can actually offer yourself right now is to keep low or no expectations.

Do what you can each day to:

1) Meet your basic needs,

2) Meet the basic needs of your children,

3) Try to be present and engaged as much as possible.

Everything beyond that is a bonus.

Low or no expectations can apply to your children as well. They’re living through this time of change, just like we are, but with even less control. They are uncertain and are being resilient nonetheless, but it has been reported that changes in sleep, eating, and behaviour are all common during these times of change.

Time vs. Capacity

There was an incredible post awhile back from @thebirdspapaya about this idea of time vs. capacity and it literally stopped me in my tracks of being hard on myself for not “taking advantage of” all the time we’re having at home. To paraphrase the post – yes, we likely have more time on our hands than ever before, but the emotional load we are carrying is heavy.

This load will tire us out, will knock our capacity right down, and we will need to rest and care for ourselves before much of anything can really be accomplished again. And that’s ok. A funny thing about humans is that when they are stressed, they tend to not function at their highest potential. So expecting yourself to be Super-Mom and teacher and chef and counsellor and employee/business owner/family manager and everything else all at once during this time is just not practical. We can’t be everything to everybody if we don’t take care of ourselves first. The time might be there, but the capacity may not be. And that’s ok. Again, lowering our expectations for ourselves and prioritizing self-care at this time can only help.

Radical kindness

You know that feeling you get when you’re being judgmental towards others or critical of yourself? It doesn’t feel very good, right? It can be toxic, and now is not the time to invite toxicity into our lives. This isn’t a new idea but practicing radical kindness towards yourself and others during this time can only improve our situation. I know this is easier said than done because it’s an engrained defense mechanism for many of us to criticize when we are feeling unsure of ourselves or our surroundings. COVID-19 has brewed the perfect pot of uncertainty, but in the grand scheme of things, everyone lashing out will only bring about more fear and negativity. 

When isolation started, this toxic feeling was definitely seeping in for me. I was frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and was lacking the feeling of control over literally anything (this is extra stressful for a recovering Type-A person like myself).

Every day I was sinking into more judgmental and critical thoughts, and my anxiety was rising. I decided to step away from both the news and social media for a week. I was so serious about it that I literally would stop my husband mid-sentence if he was trying to tell me something he’d read or seen on the news. Poor guy! I needed some real separation from the misinformation, judgements, and comparison game online because it was dragging me down.

After my week-long break, I came back to these platforms with the perspective that I could walk away again whenever I wanted to and I could take or leave any information I saw/read. I decided to invest my time in engaging with content that was completely unrelated to COVID-19 and in connecting with my friends, family, and supporting local businesses however I could. 

Judging others for their choices or becoming a keyboard warrior against misinformation will likely change 0 people’s minds and actions. On the flip side, lifting others up who you believe in and support can only bring about more positivity. Checking in with and encouraging our friends has a positive impact all around. They feel cared about, we feel more connected, and good about ourselves too. This feel-good-ness then seeps into how we interact with our partners and kids and so on. So if we can shift our time away from criticism and towards creating good memories and conversations, it might just lead to a brighter life.

*This is not at all saying that you shouldn’t complain about your situation or commiserate about how hard this year has been. Not at all. We need to process our feelings and experiences and that’s incredibly healthy. These are just my thoughts with respect to how we view and vocalize our opinions of others.

Self-care Ideas

1. Self-care ideas to do at home/with what you already have:

-make dentist/other physical or mental health appointment (taking care of yourself is huge self-care, even if the appointments aren’t super enjoyable, the long-term benefits are worth it)

-long, warm, uninterrupted shower

-set up a spa night with the family

-do some writing

-time for reading

-bubble/epsom salt bath 

-glass of wine and Netflix

-organizing cluttered areas

-enjoy a cup of coffee/tea/beverage of choice in peace

-doing crafts

-baking/trying a new recipe

-getting outside for some fresh air/go for a walk (alone, with the family, with the dogs…)

-get a workout in at home (yoga, weights, body weight, cardio, go for a run outside, etc)

-taking and protecting time to do something you enjoy

-visiting with friends via phone call or video chat

-napping/sleep in/getting a full 8 hours

-knitting/crocheting

-listening to your favourite music

-having a family dance party at home

-face/foot mask

-spending time with husband/partner

-spending quality time with each child independently

-stretches/ball release at bedtime

-laying in bed

-painting nails

-meditating/deep breathing

-fifteen minutes of quiet time in the morning 

2. Self-care ideas to do outside the home/bigger splurges:

-pedicure/manicure

-massage/spa visit

-going to the gym/bootcamp

-walk around your favourite store 

-getting nails done

-spending time with friends

-going to the dentist/doctor (just like vehicle maintenance, this counts as self-care for your personal wellness)

-getting your favourite coffee 

-getting lashes done

-sitting in your favourite coffee shop

-getting hair done

-grocery shopping solo

-going out for dinner 

-date night

-facial

-escaping to the cabin/take a trip

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