Updated: Jul 14, 2020
There is one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of what it takes to get through this challenging time. "Adapt." Our ability to do so, will determine whether or not we are able to navigate through the adversity, coming out stronger on the other side.
When we are faced with challenges, our stress and weaknesses are amplified. If we are angry, upset, unsettled, oppressed, and/or divided, it becomes more evident. When we are tired before we even climb a hill, how do we expect to make it to the top without having to rest, reset, and regroup?
When the pandemic hit our region, I personally had to revamp my entire business from an in-person entity, to a virtual one. I had to ask myself the following:
How do I continue to serve my community?
What new problems are they facing?
How do I both serve my community and make money to support my family?
In short, I had to "adapt" or modify my business to meet the needs of my audience, while keeping them and my loved ones safe.
The challenge is that with new norms, come new stresses.
What do healthy boundaries look like?
“If I didn’t define myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive," Audre Lorde said during a speech at Harvard University in 1982.
Without the parameters of having work hours, I found myself working for hours on end to convert my business to virtual. I was saying "yes" to tons of virtual meetings, and even adding more classes to my weekly schedule. Because we are at home, the exhaustion and expense of travel was taken away, but a new fatigue set in. Too much screen time. It is quite easy to jump from thing to another, and not even notice that hours have gone by with no rest.
On average, people who work from home are actually spending more time working than ever before. But it can not go on like this. Of course, we are going through a period of transition and figuring everything out. Once we get settled, it is essential that we set parameters for effective, healthy workloads.
Add in the social unrest, racial injustice, and murders of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and you have a recipe for complete physical and mental exhaustion.
In a recent interview with Dr. Sharlene Allen, LSCW-C we discussed creating boundaries for a healthy work-life balance. She said that we have to define what is important. We have to get clear on where we end and where the world begins.
It is so simple, and yet challenging. As someone who holds space for my family and community, these lines often get blurred. When they do, I find myself feeling drained and less productive. In short, if I would like to continue to be of service, it is essential that I define these healthy boundaries. Otherwise, this exhaustion will soon develop into disease. Plain and simple. You can not pour from an empty, broke-ass cup. (Yup, I said it!)
Top 5 Ways to Practice Radical Self-care During a Pandemic
Practicing self-care is the most radical thing that you can do. You are sharpening the most valuable tool that you have. When your mind is clear and your body is healthy, you can go out into the world, move mountains, and evoke everlasting change.
Get real about whats important. Set healthy boundaries. Define where you end and the world begins.
Unplug from the virtual world. As soon as you watch the news, read someone's social media post, or like their photo, you are on their journey, not yours.
Eat fresh local fruits and veggies. When you eat better. You feel better. There is nothing more invigorating than eating food that is so fresh, it is still warm from the sun. Not only will your food be more nourishing, you will be supporting your local economy.
Go outside! Spending time in nature is a sure fire way to live in the now. Stand in the grass. Hug a tree. Walk in the woods. Sit near a body of water. Don't live where there is a lot of nature? Get a few plants for inside your home and in your yard.
Say "YES" to YOU! When you say "no" to the things that are draining you, you can say "yes" to the things that nourish and heal you.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare," Audre Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light" and Other Essays.
Self-care + Quarantine = Stay-cation
What is a stay-cation, you ask? It is when you unplug from the outside world, and enjoy all the pleasures that your home and hometown have to offer.
Even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, there is no reason why we can't find wonderful ways to take a break from work and find new and creative ways to immerse ourselves in radical self-care and discovery.
Here are a few ideas for what to do during your retreat:
Camp in your back yard.
Hike a nearby trail.
Rent a bike and go for a ride.
Read that romantic novel you've been thinking about.
Give yourself a pampering day: take a nice bath, give yourself a facial, body scrub, etc.
Meditate, practice yoga, dance.
Create an in-home safe space. Bring in plants, crystals, soothing music, ambient light, a nice chair/pillows.
Taking care of yourself is an essential part of your daily life. It is not a luxury, nor a privilege. It is your right. Make yourself a priority. It is the most selfless thing that you can do.
Food is medicine.
Self-care is healthcare.