With the advent of COVID-19, it’s a wild time in the world and it’s absolutely testing our ability to cope.
One thing that I’m struggling with is my ability to focus and be productive. I have so many thoughts about what I could be accomplishing, but I find myself zoning out on Instagram or binging on a new Netflix show.
Then I see the people that are spending time organizing their pantries and teaching their kids to speak French and I feel even worse.
I know that I just need to be patient with myself. But I also know that if I’m struggling, you probably are too.
While a lack of focus and productivity are my issues, you might be struggling with other things, like fear about the future, insomnia, discomfort with uncertainty and financial worries.
So what I want you to do is take a deep breath and consider this.
There is an easier way to care for yourself right now. Let me show you how.
When we talk about coping, the activities that we usually discuss fall into the category of “macro self-care.”
Macro self-care involves activities like exercising, getting a massage, eating healthy food or going on a vacation. It takes a certain amount of energy, time, planning and commitment to engage in these types of things.
Macro self-care is very important (perhaps essential), but it’s not the only way.
There’s another category of self-care activities that are called “micro self-care.”
These take very little effort, time and commitment. They are simple strategies meant to be done quickly and are often incorporated easily into activities that you’re already doing on a regular basis.
Minimal effort and maximal reward. This sounds like what we all need right now!
Check out these micro self-care strategies and take one or two to use every day to help you get through this difficult time.
The shower method: You’re having a shower or a bath on a regular basis so use that time to imagine that the water is washing away all of your stress and worries. Bring up the topics that are bothering you and then just imagine that they are released as they go down the drain. Another way to relax using the shower or bath is to put a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the tub or on the floor on the side of the shower. I use eucalyptus for my shower in the morning and lavender for my occasional nighttime baths.
Stargazing: Right now, due to reduced air pollution, our stars are easier than ever to see. Try stepping outside at nighttime and gazing up at the sky. As you do, contemplate the vastness of the universe, the beauty of nature and do the best that you can to appreciate the tranquility of the moment.
Countdown from 10: As you get up in the morning, sit on the edge of your bed and spend a few moments doing a slow countdown from 10 to 0. As you count, breathe deeply into your belly. Take it as an opportunity to center yourself in preparation for the day.
Your favorite affirmation: Choose a favorite affirmation to help you get through tough times in your day. Good examples are “This too shall pass” or “I have all I need in this moment” or “It’s all going to be OK.” Remind yourself of this affirmation during any difficult moments. Put it in your phone and write it on sticky notes and leave them around your house. You can enter it into your calendar on your phone and have it pop up as a reminder every day at the same time for a little extra support and love.
A trauma-releasing stretch: The psoas muscle group is an area of connection between the spine, the torso and pelvis. These muscles contain a large number of “fight or flight” nerves from the sympathic nervous system and are known to store traumatic experiences. By releasing these muscles, you can help your body get into a relaxed state, enhance your feeling of safety and begin to let go of stressful events from your past. To relax the psoas muscles, lay down on your back and rest your lower legs and feet on a chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Relax your muscles and breathe in this position for a few minutes. To incorporate movement, hug one knee into your chest for a few breaths and then switch legs.
A long hug: Did you know that oxytocin is a hormone that’s released when we feel love toward another person? It’s sometimes referred to as the “love drug” and it’s what makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we think about those that we care for. Oxytocin is also known to reduce anxiety and stress. One of the easiest ways to get a “hit” of oxytocin is to give or receive a nice, long hug. If you have a partner, children, a friend or a pet at home, spend a good 10 seconds giving them a hug every single day. If you’re social distancing from your loved ones, an alternative to a real hug is the “Hug” app, which allows you to send a virtual hug to anyone you want. Not perfect, but it can still give you that oxytocin!
A lotion massage: As you’re sitting watching TV, choose one of your favorite lotions and give your hands and nails a long and well-needed massage. Add in a drop of your favorite essential oils if you have some “on hand” (pun intended). We’re all washing our hands so much right now and they’re needing some extra love.
A reminder of comfort: Choose a small object that you can carry around in your pocket. Every time you’re feeling anxious, sad or lonely, pick up the object and rub it in your hands for a few moments. Use this time to breathe and remind yourself that everything is going to be OK. If you can choose something meaningful to you, that’s great, but any small object will do. My favorite object is an amethyst crystal that I picked up years ago.
I hope these micro self-care strategies give you some relief from any challenging moments you’re experiencing in the days ahead.
I’d love it if you can comment below with your favorite strategy and share this post with a loved one who could use it!