Taking Care of Yourself & Others: Staying Connected in Tough Times
Article contributed by Mayo Clinic chaplain, Lora Burge.
We are social beings with a need for social interaction. This can become complicated when we are told to be socially distanced due to concern for spread of the COVID-19 virus. Social interaction and connection may need to look different than it did before COVID-19, but it can still be a meaningful and important part of your days.
Taking Care of Yourself:
- Stay connected to yourself: As much as you can, continue your routine and self-care activities. It may seem like extra work to get up and do the full shower and get dressed routine each morning. Remember—all of these actions help to preserve some normalcy in our day and also signal to our bodies the time of day, day of the week, etc. Sticking with these routines may seem silly, but you may find you feel a bit better as you do them. Stay connected to your regular coping strategies too: stick with the meditation, journaling, yoga and other calming practices—you may not be able to do them like you’re used to. However, the benefits you receive are more important now, than ever.
- Stay active: Again, your preferred gym or workout regimen may be closed down. But a little bit of activity each day will go a long way. Go for a walk, pull the bike out of the garage and go for a ride, spend some time gardening in the yard. You may not get the workout intensity you’re used to, but the fresh air will do you good and it can help change the scenery.
- Stay connected to joy: Find one thing each day to look forward to—even if it’s simple. A podcast or show episode, calling a friend, working on a project or art piece, checking on the garden, playing with young children or a pet. The days can become even more of a blur if we don’t have these moments to boost our spirits. Even if you can’t find joy inside your physical space, it’s ok to pull up a YouTube clip just because you know it will make you laugh out loud or smile when you see kittens do cute kitten things.
Caring for others:
Most of us have some level of wanting to help when big crises like this happen. Whether it’s for family that we live with, family and friends at a distance, neighbors, or coworkers that we miss, many of us have asked in recent weeks, "How can I help?" Certainly we must stick with social distancing and all safety precautions, but it’s not impossible to still care for others. And it may help brighten your day too!
- Stay connected with technology: Now is the time to use all the technology that we have at our fingertips! Send texts, messages, emails, or call people. Take the time to set up some video calls with groups of friends. Maybe even reconnect with friends you haven’t been in touch with recently. Did you know that you can play games over Zoom? I recently had some good fun and laughs playing Taboo and similar games over a video-based call with people I don’t really even know. I would never have tried it pre-COVID-19, but has been a meaningful connection in recent days.
- Get Creative: Consider other ways to be in touch. When was the last time you wrote a letter or a postcard? I am especially excited by any cards that come in the mail these days. Happen to have any sidewalk chalk or cardboard and markers? Write or draw an encouraging message for your neighbors as they pass or walk by. Into social media? Record yourself reading a storybook, singing a song, or curate a collection of uplifting or pretty photos and add to it daily.
- If you have a loved one in a nursing facility or hospital: You probably cannot visit in person, but can you safely get to a sidewalk or park nearby? I’ve had a few patients say that their family ‘visited’ by calling from outside the building to wave and they all told me it was a highlight of their day to see them ‘in person.’ Again, if you have bubbles, signs or chalk handy, bring them along to up the fun factor for everyone!
Remember, these are unprecedented times so it’s okay (and encouraged!) to take unprecedented measures to care for yourself and those around you. The more creative the better. Time spent on well-being and self-care is time well-spent.
What things are you doing during this time to care for yourself or others?