As if the challenges of being a caregiver for someone you love isn’t challenging enough, here comes COVID 19. Everything you know about human connection and touch has been put to the test and a basic hug or handshake, now has the potential to do harm. All of the self-care practices that make caregiving just a little bit more manageable are suddenly closed and unavailable. Now what?
Take a deep breath, count to 10, you’ve got this. The basic principles of self-care still apply and are still available to you, they may just look a little different. Taking a walk around the block, while maintaining your distance from the neighbors is still one of the best ways to clear your mind, get fresh air and sunshine and that powerful and necessary vitamin D. When you need a little social distance from the one your caring for, a glass of lemonade on the patio for 10 minutes while they rest, can have the same effect. Take time for yourself to still do the things you enjoy like reading, writing in a journal, gardening; all free, safe and effective tools to keep help you refocus and stay energized.
If you need a little more structure, try a relaxation app on your phone. Some free apps that offer guided meditation, inspiring images and music include:
- Pacifica: Apple or Android
- Happify: Apple or Android
- Relax Melodies: Apple or Android
- Headspace: Apple or Android
- Calm: Apple or Android
- The Mindfulness App: Apple or Android
- Breathe2Relax: Apple or Android
- Pause Meditation Studio: Apple or Android
Many of us are missing face-to-face connections with friends and other family members. Try a group video chat site like ZOOM https://zoom.us/ at no cost and see your best friends and your neighbors all at the same time. You’ll feel like you are in the same room but socially safe and physically distant. Of course, the familiar applications are also available such as Skype, Facetime, and Facebook Messenger Video.
Research shows that getting outside in nature has many mental health benefits as well. Walking has been proven effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and there is further evidence that walking in nature improves those results even further. That’s because different parts of our brain activate in nature. When you need to get out of the house, taking a drive on a nice day with the windows open and music playing helps dispel the feeling of being cooped up. You can do this alone or with the one you’re caring for. The drive will do them good too. Visit an open, free state park, walking trail, lake or riverside bench or path. Go fishing, fly a kite, get take-out and have a picnic and enjoy the spring weather. If it’s raining or lightly thundering, open your windows and enjoy natures relaxing show.
While COVID-19 may be changing everything we know about how we enjoy and take care of ourselves, maybe the silver lining in all of the chaos is the opportunity to reconnect with the simple things in life that we may have taken for granted in the past. Maybe this forced revisit to a simpler time, before technology and schedules and the loud busyness of life became the norm, is a blessing in disguise. Finding the positive in dire times, is also a form of self-care. Take a deep breath, count to 10, and take a moment to find the gratitude and joy wherever you may be, in whatever form life takes.
Our communities will be hosting virtual discussions on coping techniques throughout the month of May. Please reach out to the community nearest you for more information and to RSVP.