I know this is not the summer we wanted. My son graduated high school this spring and had big plans for his summer. All canceled. Because I was expecting to have my home mostly to myself, I had plans for new projects I wanted to launch while I had the space and privacy to do so. Those have been postponed. Partly that is because it is hard for me to focus with people constantly underfoot and partly because the lockdown and pandemic have frazzled my brain. I’m sure many of you can relate.
In the interest of saving our sanity, we all need to find small things that can make us feel better. Even if only temporarily.
This summer I’ve kept my self-care things small because I’m trying to avoid guilt. I know that many people are suffering. Illness and death of themselves or loved ones. Financial issues from the damaged economy and dysfunctional unemployment systems in many states. Stress levels through the roof.
I also look at the horizon and see how many more are about to suffer. The impending end of the extra unemployment money and eviction protections. The growing virus levels and the expected second wave — if we ever get out of this first wave. The economy is going to crater. Many people are going to suffer in ways they never have before and probably never thought they would. I know we are going to take a hit. It probably won’t sink us, but it’s gonna hurt.
Given those factors, I’ve tried to keep my self-care ideas small so they’d be within the realm of many.
Obviously my ideas are responsible. I do not in any way advocate for anyone to be out doing things that would put themselves or anyone else at risk. Stay home except for essential activities. A vacation is not essential. Disney World is not essential. That party is not essential. There are enough selfish assholes in the world. I’m not going to be one of them. I hope you are not either.
I’ve never really been one to make playlists before, but I started during the lockdown. Use the ability to make personalized playlists to your advantage. You can create them for different moods or different activities. Suit yourself.
For my moods, I’ve got one with music that relaxes me and one with music that makes me happy. I use them when I’m stressed or unhappy. For my activities, I’ve got one I listen to when I’m rough drafting something, one for drowning out the neighborhood noise when I’m trying to read, and one I made especially for when I have to go out to run errands.
Given that Covid can kill me or those I care about, I’m pretty stressed when I have to leave the house. This was especially true early on in lockdown when I’d go to the grocery store once a week. That is when I made the playlist. I’ve got a dark sense of humor so I put songs with lyrics that would appeal to that. Stuff like Dead Man’s Party, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, and It’s the End of the World as We Know It.
Use music to help cut down on your stress or improve your mood.
Help Yourself Sleep
Sleep has become a major issue for many people. I’ve got anxiety and depression, so sleep is something I’ve always struggled with.
During the pandemic, I’ve gone back and forth between sleeping too much and sleeping too little. Mostly it has been not sleeping enough.
Summer brought its own set of problems, like every year. We don’t have air conditioning, so nights are often sweaty and unpleasant.
This year I’m making more of an effort to find solutions. I’ve tried several different fan configurations and bought an additional small one that blows directly on my face.
The biggest help so far was a set of PJs made from bamboo. I saw them recommended on a list for hot sleepers and they have made a huge difference. The first night I wore them, I slept for seven solid hours. I don’t have a clue when I last did that. Next, I might try a pillow that is supposed to stay cool.
Find ways to make yourself comfortable and prioritize sleep. If temperature is an issue try new sleeping attire or fans. If light is an issue, try blackout shades or a sleep mask. If noise is an issue, try earplugs.
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important parts of self-care, but for many of us, it is the most elusive. Keep trying to find solutions. You may stumble across something that helps.
My final self-care tip is small treats. When your days are monotonous and long, small things can make a big impact.
Keep good drinks around — my family loves flavored waters, so I make sure we always have lots and occasionally I get new brands or flavors for us to try. Lots of ice is a must, so I keep the freezer stocked.
Cold treats are also good — we’ve got a Yonanas machine and this year also acquired a snow cone machine for my son. Ice cream and popsicles are always popular, too.
Get yourself a scent of lotion that you love and keep it in the fridge. I love the sensation of cool lotion going on. I favor fruity scents and that adds to the refreshing feeling.
Another way I’m treating myself is with cute masks. All of us decent people are wearing them every time we leave the house, so I thought I’d treat myself to some fun ones. I’ve got ones with cute animals, funny sayings, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night. There is no shortage of places making masks. Treat yourself to some that suit your personality or style.
Most of us are experiencing trauma right now. That makes it more important than ever for us to find ways to take care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself will help you be more available to help those who depend on you to take care of them.