Self-care during quarantine

In this strange time of isolation and upheaval, it’s more important than ever to take good care of oneself. I’m therefore inspired to offer up some of my favorite time-tested tips for feeling one’s best.

This doesn’t have to be a big production. Even something as simple as putting on a cleansing face mask first thing in the morning can be a calming message to the frayed nerves: you are cared for. I recommend taking out that dusty tube of charcoal face mask that’s been languishing in the back of your medicine cabinet, reading the instructions, and plopping some on. It says to put it on your face and neck. Indeed: the neck—that’s nice. We all could stand to take better care of our neck skin.

See—things like this. Taking care of all of oneself. This is what will help.

Another critical part of self-care during this time is taking walks. Ideally you’d do this before you slather dark gray-black goop all over your face and neck, and ideally you’d be wearing something other than sweatpants that now are covered in charcoal handprints, but it’s okay if what we are able to achieve now doesn’t quite meet our ideals.

Plus, looking this way as we tour the neighborhood will help keep those important six feet of distance between us and our neighbors, who (speaking of self care) are suddenly walking away from us at quite a clip. Great hustle, Charlie! Keep that heart rate elevated!

Upon return from the walk, consider that you also don’t typically take very good care of your arm skin. Today is a great day to change that. You know what? It’s not specified on the label, but why not put on some of the charcoal mask all over those puppies? They deserve it.

At this point, you might be thirsty. This is a great reminder to stay hydrated. Proper consumption of beverages is more important than ever. Before you sit down, why not knock out a few birds with one stone? Get a nice tall glass of cold water; make some soothing herbal tea; pour a glass of that big jug of cold brew you panic-bought during what felt like the last grocery run on Earth; and—as is now our patriotic duty—have a vat of premixed mimosas delivered from the struggling local brunch place.

Make sure to tip the delivery person double when they leave the mimosa vat on the doorstep. Try to smile through the cracking face mask.

Somehow wrangle all of these to your favorite easy chair area. Sip them in alternating order until you really confuse all your hormone receptors. Are we up? Are we down? Neither—we are taking care of ourselves.

In fact, why not pick up a book? No better time than now to knock out that long reading list. Pick something big and difficult off the shelf, something you’ve been sighing at for years whenever you walk by it.

For an hour, alternate reading one paragraph (the first one, over and over) with five minutes of scrolling the news on your phone. Start to feel the skin of your eyelids retracting as the mask dries. Calmly recognize that this is part of the process.

No problem if the reading is not working at the moment. Maybe we need some more wind-down before we’ll be in the right headspace. Remember: there is no “should” when it comes to taking care of oneself. Simply ask what would support you in this moment? Maybe some yoga.

Pull up a yoga video on YouTube. Sip the mimosa vat during forward folds. Make sure to give some extra-gentle loving attention to any arm stretches, now that the mask is drying your elbows straight.

Tumble over. Practice gratitude in the fact that no one saw.

Take this opportunity to add some loving attention to your leg skin. Why should it be left out of the charcoal mask party? Slather it right on there.

Stand by the window and stare at a tree for quite a while.

Struggle to walk back to the bathroom to wash off the fully dry full-body charcoal mask/cast.

Ahhh, that’s better.

Notice that it is now somehow midnight. Have a slightly late (continental?) dinner of some spicy Cheetos and a slice of American cheese so you can lovingly hurry to bed. Remember, getting enough sleep is a benefit to the mental and physical health that cannot be overstated. Feel free not to set an alarm. Time is a flat circle and you’ll wake up eventually!

Spend the next two days finding dry charcoal bits all over the floor, a subtle reminder of the day you put yourself first.

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