How has Self Care Changed in Times of Quarantine?

Uncertainty hangs in the air of each day in quarantine heavily like smoke. The uncertainty causes anxiety deep in my chest. It's been cemented there since the beginning of this pandemic crisis. Waking up in the morning for each coming day feels like one of those movies where the character relives the same day repeatedly until they find a way out. The uncertainty causes this aching feeling for an answer that no one truly possesses.

Each day is so different; the news changes, the restriction deadlines change, it's made more and more political, etc. I'm still in the process of adjusting to this period of history everyone keeps talking about. It's been a struggle that no one could've really prepared for. A few weeks into this social distancing period, I'm navigating the ways in which I can take care of myself, as are my friends. 

There has been an overwhelming narrative on social media that once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, you must have six-pack abs, know how to speak three extra languages, edit Youtube videos, have a novel written...the list goes on and on. Social media has an obsession with productivity. During a time when we're typically on our phones more than usual, this concept gets burned into our brains. It's exhausting. This is a global pandemic: it's not normal. You don't need to acquire all these skills on top of school work, or working from home. 

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So, that begs the question. What do you do to take care of yourself, to sustain your sanity during this chaos?

One could say dying their hair, doing face masks, tie-dying and bleaching clothes, and whatever internet trend is self-care. While those things bring temporary joy, they don't do much for actually caring for yourself. In a time where there's a pressure on productivity, an important form of self-care is to slow down. 

My friend Morgan has been putting an emphasis on the small victories, and I think that's extremely important especially now. Taking a shower, nourishing yourself, and putting on clean clothes even if they're pajamas are all small victories in my book. Two other lessons she's bestowed upon me were: remember what your true responsibilities are, and learn to be more selfish. There is no benefit in worrying about everything that you have no power over. The health and safety of you and your family are important, she explained, but everyone else's isn't your responsibility. Selfishness is not a bad thing. Selfishness in an argument is thrown around with a venomous coating, but in times like these, it's important to put yourself first especially when it can save your life. 

For me, taking care of myself looks like average activities. Getting out of bed, showering, moisturizing my face, eating three meals a day, getting schoolwork done, writing articles for work, etc. But it also looks like gentleness and kindness towards myself when I sit in front of a tv or my laptop and watch Gilmore Girls for the 900th time. It's gentleness and kindness towards myself when I eat a few extra snacks my brain will tell me I didn't "need". It's journaling every gritty detail, every thought I have about this chaotic time. It's taking selfies to remember that I'm still me, even in a pair of my dad's old pajama pants and a giant hoodie. (I call it a quarantine uniform. I can't do my hair and makeup every day or put on a cute outfit. Sorry.) It's reading a poetry book, listening to an audiobook, or a podcast. It's watching a beautiful movie each night to pull me out of reality for a few hours. I'm teaching myself small things when I have time, or feel like it. For instance, I want to learn graphic design, and how to hand letter better on my iPad. I'm diving back into writing again, and I want to learn how to properly screenwrite. I'm not forcing myself to be productive when I feel as though physically I'm swimming through cement. Self-care looks different on everybody, but in my quarantine, it looks like gentleness and kindness. 

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If you take one thing away from these words, know this: in this global pandemic that we're all suffering through, you have quite literally never been less alone. Everyone is experiencing this pandemic crisis in different ways, but all of us are going through it at once. You are not alone, even if you feel boxed into your four walls of a bedroom. You're not alone, even if you feel like every day the house you're quarantining in feels smaller and smaller. You're not alone, even if you're experiencing immense bouts of depression and anxiety. If you are really struggling, reach out for help. You can find crisis hotlines for your situation here. We're all going to get through this, together. Keep taking care of yourself. Stay healthy, stay safe.