Even if you did not fully listen to the pre-flight safety presentation the last time you were on an airplane, I am willing to bet you can recall the flight attendant’s advice to put your mask on before helping others. The reason is simple: You cannot help anyone else if you are in danger of running out of oxygen yourself.
This advice is also useful now that many of us are working from home while also caring for our families, helping children learn, and tending to the needs of our significant others. With increased demands in an environment that is at times stressful and anxiety producing, the need for self-care is even more important than it has ever been. Caring for ourselves allows us to better care for others. But, oddly enough, finding the means or the time to care for ourselves can add to our stress levels.
Self-care can take many forms: Exercising, eating foods that nourish and sustain your body, relaxing, or making meaningful connections with others. If deciding what to do or finding the time to do it adds to your anxiety, try to follow advice you may have received from friends in the recovery community and KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetie). Do what you can, when you can, to care for yourself so that you can be the best worker, partner, parent, homeschool supervisor, or friend.
The following suggestions may serve as guidelines or inspiration:
Hire a virtual trainer
Many independent personal trainers and those who work at privately-owned facilities are eager to work with you virtually. Contact your gym to find out if individual or group training is available at this time. If you do not belong to a gym, contact a local facility or ask friends or work colleagues if they can make a recommendation for you. If you do have a personal trainer and they have not already made an offer to provide virtual training sessions, ask if they will. All businesses and service providers are learning new ways of working, and they may welcome the opportunity to learn a new skill.
Do an at-home Workout
If hiring a trainer or paying for classes is not financially feasible, an at-home workout is a great way to stay active. Your workouts need not be overly complicated. Work the major muscle groups including legs, arms, and back, and get your heart pumping by doing jumping jacks, pushups, lunges, and squats. I also recommend adding triceps dips to help tone up your “bat wings” if you, like me, are blessed with them. Do dips on a heavy and stable piece of furniture like your couch, a chair, or a bench.
Either schedule a time in your workday to complete an entire workout or simply add activity into your routine at random intervals. An easy and fun workout involves a deck of cards. Assign an exercise to each suit; for example, spades are squats, hearts are jumping jacks, clubs are pushups, and diamonds are sit-ups or crunches. Aces are a water break and jokers are ten burpees or another challenging exercise. The number on the card tells you how many repetitions of each exercise to perform, and face cards are 11 repetitions. Draw a card, perform the exercise, and then take a break or keep drawing until you are finished.
Finding a free online workout these days is easy. Google “at home workout” or “quarantine workout,” and you will find many options. If you find an instructor you like, subscribe to their YouTube channel or bookmark their website and show them some love by sharing your activity on social media to help promote them.
Drinking water promotes digestion, aids in the transportation of nutrients to your cells, and helps maintain a safe body temperature.
It is recommended that you aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink 75 ounces of water. A typical drinking glass is about 16 ounces, and a measuring cup like one you would use for baking is 8 ounces.
There are apps available for iPhone and Android devices to help you track your water intake. Find a free one in your app store and get started using it. Or if you want to track your water intake the easy way, judge by the color of your urine. If it is light yellow, you are doing well.
For many of us, going for a walk, run, or bike ride is still an acceptable way to practice safe social distancing. Even a walk around the block can provide a few minutes of rest and relaxation.
If for some reason you cannot fit an outdoor activity into your day, at least move outside to work for part of the day. Some of our most enjoyable Zoom conference calls have included colleagues who are working while sunning on their patio.
Working from home, especially if you are supervising children of any age, can mean you forget to take the regularly scheduled “fifteens” that you may have become accustomed to taking when you were working at the office. Make some time to move away from your workspace if you can, or at the very least, to do something other than work.
My favorite non-work activity during our quarantine has been watching “Some Good News” by John Krasinski, also known as Jim from The Office. Krasinski broadcasts weekly on Facebook or his YouTube channel, sharing stories and events that will make you laugh, cry, and help restore your faith in humanity. His 20-minute videos, which feature special guests including his former costars, have become a highlight of my week.
Now more than ever, the need to connect with others – specifically people outside of our homes – is important to our health and wellbeing. Many recovery groups are holding meetings online, and you can even choose to attend an online meeting in another state or country if you wish. Check your local Intergroup or Area website for details.
You can also schedule a Zoom meeting with a friend or use Facetime or Google duo to see friends and family members while you are chatting with them. Or you can try the Marco Polo app to send video messages to individuals or groups.
A fun, old school way to connect is to send a card or letter. Most of us rarely receive any fun mail these days. Your friend or family member will appreciate receiving an interesting piece of mail, and the United States Postal Service will appreciate your business.
Always do your best
The fourth agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, is “always do your best.” This does not mean you always have to be perfect, always earn top marks, or always win the approval of your two-year-old. It means do your best and recognize that your best on one day may look very different than your best on another day. On some days you will be a model of self-care, and on other days you will be a mess. Give yourself grace and, try if you can, to extend that grace to others.
Wendi Wheeler is a writer and a runner who has completed several marathons, half marathons, and other races. She has worked as a trainer and coach and currently resides in Minnesota.