The wellness industry has always done a pretty good job at portraying self-care through the lens of consumerism. There are endless products produced and marketed towards bettering or enhancing our “self-care” needs—chatter about which $30 fitness class is worth it, which $12 juice is best for calming the mind, or which $100 yoni egg is better at enhancing sexual pleasure. In short, we as a culture look to things outside of ourselves to soothe our inner needs, and very often, it includes spending money.
Now, in self-isolation, we’ve been left to unfamiliar devices of comfort during the most complicated of times. We’ve been forced, collectively, to redefine what our self-care looks like. A friend of mine recently called me and expressed frustration around not being able to soothe herself during moments of high stress and anxiety. “You’re lucky,” she sighed. “You hike and journal as a way to self-care, but the only way I know how to take care of myself is to buy a shirt I don’t need or have a few beers with friends. And now, I can’t do either.”
While I do hike and journal as a way to self-soothe, in moments of deep discomfort or internal anxious rhetoric, I usually consume. I’ll run to a coffee shop and order a chai to avoid my feelings. I’ll spend hours “fake” online shopping, adding things to my cart with no intention of ever purchasing, to either procrastinate or disassociate. On really shitty days, my husband and I will treat ourselves to a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Under week one of quarantine, when my anxiety was at its peak, most of my usual self-care go-tos, as coffee shops + restaurants shut down, weren’t available. Even my trusted fake online shopping felt out of place. So I started doing news things: going on daily walks, dancing with strangers through Zoom, helping people in my community, watching endless meditative bread-making videos, and I’m even considering neighborhood primal screams.
And more than anything, I’m learning how to do nothing. How to soak in the sweetness of doing nothing—whether that’s watching the sunset or laying on the carpet and staring at the ceiling.
I’m curious…. How do we self-care during these times? What does that look like for students? For parents? For single people? For people who just lost their jobs? For people who can’t stand their jobs? For disabled folks? For pregnant women? For anyone who has a compromised immunity?
I’d love to hear from you. All of you.
What does your self-care routine look like during quarantine? Have you had to look within and explore different methods to self-soothe? What’s surprised you?