Tuesday Self-care during hardship.

During the last while I have been considering the pandemic and how it has influenced all of us (or how it may influence our life going forward into the future). I want to ask you to rewind your life back to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 to picture yourself before we knew what it would be like, then bring yourself to a place a few months later into the pandemic, think about what life was like then. What would you tell me?

What did you struggle with in order to adjust to this new way of life?

  • What did you do to survive? Did you have a strategy of survival?
  • Did your plans include growing vegetables; bulk buying, or ordering online?
  • Did you have to make financial plans? Could you work from home? Did you lose your job or get less pay?  
  • Did you have to change the way you lived and start new routines? Did you feel like creating routines or did you think you’d just take some time off while you wait it out?
  • How did you exercise or look after your weight? Did you comfort eat and eat too much?
  • How did you contend with seeing medical professionals?
  • How did you keep up with your social life? Did you use more or less social media?
  • How did you keep your spirits up? Or did you become depressed?
  • Do you find the news and views of all around you distract you or can you create a boundary for yourself to protect yourself?

The list goes on and on and each of us, being unique, will have different coping strategies and we can all learn from each other. It is with this in mind that I share my experience; not because I think I have all the answers as I certainly don’t, but there might be something I am doing that you might be inspired to try. Or there might be something that you are doing that you could share that will help me or other people.

Our difficulties are related to our circumstances and who we are:

Here are three examples

  1. A couple living in a house share, living in a room: working, sleeping, eating, holidaying, doing hobbies, and relaxation all in this same room is one type of stress
  2. while a family of eight with each having their own roles and tasks to perform
  3. Or a single person on their own with time on their hands are all different scenarios with their own difficulties.  

I only talk about our own experience here. Derek works from home and I run my life from home too so nothing changed in some ways. In the beginning, during the hard lock down, I found not being allowed to go walking and take the dogs to the greenbelt very, very difficult. It was near soul destroying. This was because walking in nature, forests and beaches is one of my most effective ways of self-care.  We also missed the weekend social interaction with friends and we obviously had to adjust to a different shopping regime.

Here are some things that I included in my routine to keep me staying vital and positive.

  • We were already walking as part of our health program but we actually agreed that once we could walk that walks would be mostly and in general a quiet space for each of us so that we could have our own reflective times. The quiet walks add a dimension of making time for oneself so we accompanied each other in quietness.
  • My animals uplift me. Having animals to care for helped me when I felt lethargic because caring for them is my responsibility. It is important to keep myself emotionally well for them too. In my relationship with them I sense when they are down or anxious; it is part of our communication. Looking after animals is tactile and the familiar bond helps with the absence of people.
  • My garden: being in it and tending it is very important to my soul and my environmental life.
  • I programmed regular short breaks of awareness (a few minutes at a time) in my active life as a way of pausing to check in with myself to see how I am and what I need. This is very important for my self-care. Some people would just say it’s living in the moment or being mindful. I found it is about developing a loving relationship with oneself: Ultimate self-awareness.
  • I found several free online courses which were intellectually stimulating, spiritually nurturing, or developing my skills. I always choose apps and courses that are free because we can’t afford to spend lots of money; I am sure many of you can relate to this financial squeeze.

Self-care is important:

We can all benefit with intentional self-care and there are many areas. I would like you to think about what you really need from yourself right now. It might be more time to think, write or meditate; or for physical needs like exercise, healthy eating, or better quality sleep etc.; or some form of relaxation or learning something new.  Once you have identified what you need from yourself ask yourself what has stopped you from getting that need met.

One of the most common answers is “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have energy” “I can’t fit it in.” You might have other reasons. Self-care actually starts with:

1) The insight of knowing what one needs. If you are not sure about what you need you could start by writing about your longings, your desires and dreams. You could also try to objectively observe yourself and try to understand what you need. Pretend you are helping your friend when you observe yourself.   

2) The next thing after identifying it is to own the desire. Wanting what you need is very important for developing motivation.

3) Motivation gives you the will to make it happen; it will help you change your habits and routines. In other words motivation helps you make a plan.

The things that we say are keeping us from self-care are actually excuses that keep us from moving into what we need. They keep us stuck. They block us from many possibilities. Therefore it is important to identify what and how you will give up in order to attain the self-care you need. Once you have made space for the desired self-care it is much easier to plan and make it happen.

My big realization

I think of it like this: Imagine my life as a box which is full; when I want to add something worthwhile to it I will have to consciously choose to take something out to make space for what I want. If I feel I can’t it means that I either have not identified those less valuable things or I don’t truly value myself and self-care.

Here are two examples

  1. I played a lot of online scrabble at one stage. I was very competitive and good at it but I stopped playing in 2019 and it opened up tons of hours for blogging which I had really wanted to do for years. Blogging has enhanced my life far more than the online scrabble. Instead of being competitive I became collaborative.
  2. I realized if I want a more orderly home or creative space I must cut short what I am doing by 15 minutes in order to tidy up. It sounds obvious but when I am caught up in the project I don’t want to stop. Yet giving up 15 minutes means more peace of mind in the long run. So now I look at how many hours or minutes I have and I always subtract 15 minutes in planning my time. Peace of mind means I can find things more easily and I can shift from one project to the next without creating major chaos. 

I encourage you to think about what you can do to incorporate extra self-care in these hard times. Please feel free to let me know what types of self-care you have found useful during the pandemic. I love reading your comments.

Please take special care of yourself.

28 thoughts on “Tuesday Self-care during hardship.

  1. “The things that we say are keeping us from self-care are actually excuses that keep us from moving into what we need. They keep us stuck. They block us from many possibilities.”
    I hadn’t really thought too much about it … but you’re right. We often DO stop ourselves from getting the rest and care that would be good for us. We generate so many excuses!!! In the long term, this means we are hampering our own growth. Something to consider and take seriously.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Morag, you made me read your post twice … so much to think about!
    It’s almost hard to say it out loud (or write it down) 😉, but the lockdown did not had such a big impact on our lives (yet) – thank you Lord! A bit more than a year before everything changed in our world in March 2020, we’ve made some huge decisions – like paid off all of our debt, sold our house in the city, quit our jobs and adapt the living of minimalism … all of this, while moving to our small seaside house.
    We were in urgent need of taking control of our lives (which was a rat race for many years) and then came lockdown … and we were forced to do exactly that!
    I did miss our daily walks next to the lake when we were in hard lockdown, but tried to occupy my mind with other things I like (reading, writing, re-building old puzzles, etc). And for the first time I had the opportunity to do two 10-week bible studies with my close friend – absolutely fantastic!
    Sorry, this is getting wayyy too long now … but I would like to conclude with this: If you don’t like yourself, this will certainly be a difficult time. Therefore, make time to get to know yourself and to like yourself 🌸.
    Thanks for a wonderful post – I will save this to read again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your response and sharing of your life and thoughts. I am fascinated by your life choice to sell up and go minimalist. I would love to hear more. It’s amazing how one is lead in life and it can soften the blow of future events. Sounds like the covid lock down was a welcome break in a way. What an awesome opportunity to share meaningful special time with your close friend.! I really like what you concluded with… It is so true we need to like and love ourselves. Don’t apologize for the length of your message, it’s lovely to have meaningful contact. I am touched that you saved this post 🤗🤗🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Self care is important, pandemic or no pandemic. Weeding out the garbage is essential. Initially lockdown looked something terrible, but with passage of time, the abnormal became a new normal. Work from home and online classes no longer look unusual.

    As we had discontinued maids, all the household chores had to be done by ourselves. One positive thing happened with me was that I started blogging during this pandemic in extra time. And some extra time for yoga and exercise too.

    Thank you Morag, for this thought provoking post🙏💐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Kaushal, self care is always important! It is very good to be able to adapt to new circumstances… And covid definitely challenges our belief that things go on as usual 👍Thank you for sharing your experience too. It’s wonderful what you chose to do in your extra time. I am happy you found it a thought provoking post. 🤗🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Morag, I loved your blog, the questions, reflections and analyses. I found that I was able to cope quite well during lockdown thanks to living in a finca or ranch so that I could still get out, walk and exercise. I also work from home, translating, teaching, writing and painting so I have been able to keep up this routine, though the shop where I sell some things has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic and there has also been less demand for classes and my income has been affected. And yes, my social life has been much less and I haven’t been able to see my family in England for over a year and a half, so that’s been very difficult. Luckily I am a person with a lot of faith, so I have been able to draw on this for strength, guidance, support, direction, nourishment and encouragement.
    Thank you for sharing your own experiences and thoughts, and best of luck in all you do! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are welcome, and thank you for sharing your experience too. Sounds similar in some ways. If one is already living a life that enables one to continue with normal routine it is much easier. You are right faith is important too, and has helped me too: you mentioned strength, guidance, support, direction, nourishment and encouragement… They are so important for a stability that surpasses all understanding. Thank you for your wishes and to you too. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an insightful write! I absolutely agree with how self-care is an essential part of our lives. I also relate to how having pets to take care of is an uplifting task and rewarding in its own way.

    “The things that we say are keeping us from self-care are actually excuses that keep us from moving into what we need. They keep us stuck.” Goodness, this was a brilliant way to put it!

    Being a student, the major change was definitely the transitioning to online classes (which seems to be taking its toll on my eyes) but I’m rather grateful for how smooth the changes have been for me compared to many others around the world.

    Thanks so much for the tips and thought-provoking questions! This was quite the wholesome read! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This weekend I wondered what year we are in, was told it’s 2021… 🙂
    I can’t really recall the time before 2020, before the pandemic, I’m grateful that my life didn’t change too much. I work mostly from home, so hard lock-down wasn’t too bad, fiancée is an essential worker, so she wasn’t home, the only adjustment was when we were in Level 5 in the beginning I had to look after the twins, and I had to teach them to crawl, we were fortunate that the headmaster/owner from the nursery school sneaked out and came to our house one day bringing exercise equipment for the twins to exercise and help strengthen their muscles…

    I was fortunate to have set up a home gym way before lock down and the pandemic hit. So exercise wasn’t a problem.

    Shopping was the worst and best part for me. Only being able to shop essentials allowed me to save money and not waste on non essentials. Opened my eyes to what I waste money on on a daily basis.
    But getting to the shops early and standing in long queues waiting to go in was the worst. And restriction of movement also not nice.

    Im no social butterfly and resonate with the hermit life so no socialising also not too bad. But I do miss it, even though we are allowed in a way to socialise we tend to avoid it to keep others safe, only visit parents for them to see the twins every weekend.

    I need to meditate more. Actually need to start. Again. I know the benefits I get from it, so need to make time, no excuse really for not doing it.
    Exercise keeps me sane and is my antidepressants and never miss a training day, only when I’m ill.

    I like comparing life to a box that you fill up.
    That’s a nice way of making space for important things in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started blogging for the first time during lock down. I could not attend yoga classes anymore, but could also enrol online, but find that I am not as discipline as before. I lost my business and eventually had the opportunity to enter the working world, thankfully working from home. I am thankful for the working contract that came my way, but I do find myself struggling to fit in all the things I started to do, like the writing and reading of blogs. All the best Morag with everything you set to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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