These coping strategies have been helping me lately and guiding my quarantine self-care:
- I make my exhales longer than my inhales. It’s super simple. I can do it anywhere at any time! It helps keep my stress levels down and helps me relax and fall asleep when symptoms spike.
- I ask myself: If I was taking care of a little kid who had the same exact symptoms as I have right now, what would I do for them? Then, I do it for myself. It’s weird as adults we make ourselves do things that we would never make little kids do if they weren’t feeling well. Before I made this rule, I’d make myself finish all my work tasks before resting. I’d eat pizza and chocolate and drink wine to “treat myself.” I’d wait to refill my water bottle until I had a break in my schedule, even if I was thirsty. I’d be feeling upset, and I’d make myself keep it together until I got home. I would NEVER make a kid do that, so why would I make myself do all that? Now I make sure I have water when I need it, eat nutritious comfort foods, let myself feel my feelings and recover, distract myself with calming and engaging activities, allow myself to rest or nap, that kind of thing.
- I deliberately make time for mental stillness. Before MdDS, if I was stressed, I had a tendency to push or work harder, put more time in, pack my weekends with fun things, etc. I realized immediately after my onset of symptoms that my old way of doing things wouldn’t work for me anymore, but it took me a while to recognize that I needed to make mental stillness a priority. For me, that means journaling, stretching, going for walks, listening to guided meditations (I like Tara Brach’s podcast), engaging in hobbies like painting, going for weekly forest hikes with my husband, and spending quality time with loved ones (without technology involved). I love the book Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday. It really inspired me to seek out more opportunities for stillness, and it takes on another level of meaning as a reader who never experiences the actual sensation of stillness. (If anyone ends up reading it, I would love to discuss it with you!)
What are some of your best coping strategies? Any thoughts or ideas that help guide your self-care?