Self care is important to me all year round - pandemic or no pandemic. After years of not doing what's good for me and engaging in self-destructive behaviours, over the past few years I've really made loving myself and looking after myself a priority. At the start of lockdown I realised that quite a few of my normal self care activities (buying a special Friday breakfast for getting through the week, having a post payday lunch with friends, spending time with my sister etc) was no longer an option, so I was going to need to try a little harder at home. Lockdown has also meant that there's been way more time for some introspection, which has meant that I needed to make sure I was taking more care of myself to deal with some of the things that were coming up from spending time with myself.
I'm not saying my lockdown self care has been perfect. There's been a few weeks where I've done nothing but wallow and cry and mope and I've gotten into that vicious cycle of feeling rubbish then not doing any self care then feeling more rubbish. But, I've spent a lot of time making an effort to slow down and focus on what I can do to make myself happy inside the house when there's so much going on to make my anxiety flare up.
Self care for me has massively been about slowing down. I would be the first to admit that I am obsessed with the idea of being productive and find it hard to take time out and relax. In the first few weeks of lockdown I really needed to stop thinking like this. I barely wrote, created anything and my house got messier and messier. It felt like everyone else was learning new skills and sorting out their homes and lives whilst I had stopped doing anything. But that's the self care I needed.
I spent lots of time watching TV and started re-watching old comfort shows, so I've seen a LOT of One Tree Hill and Simpsons episodes over these past few months. I spent time just petting my bunny and watching him dig holes and play around in the garden. I started yoga again after a few years of not approaching my yoga mat. Whilst the latter sounds productive, it's actually been a very good way for me to ground myself and take time out of the day to just breathe and stretch. I've done 80 yoga practices in lockdown now(!), which I never anticipated reaching, but it really has been needed to help me slow down and tackle my rising anxiety.
After these first few weeks of relaxing and snacking on whatever I fancied, I started to focus on other aspects of self care. I was totally up for having lots of video calls with people all the time at the start, but as time wore on I've learnt to put boundaries up there and accept that it is fine to not always do these. Although there's not much else to do when you have to stay inside, you wouldn't normally be seeing and speaking to lots of different people in this quite dissasociative way.
I've started new routines with my sister over facetime that have helped us stay connected. We quite often cook dinner or wash up together to ease the loneliness, and we've been doing twice weekly face masks whilst we water our plants around the house. I've really focused on my skin care and hair care to help me feel good. I've been doing hair masks every Sunday morning to try and keep it in good condition and help it grow in lockdown, and I've been moisturising and cleansing my face every day. These little moments of self care are an important part of my routine now and do make me feel better in my own skin.
As the lockdown loosened a little I've bought a few things for around the house as we've spent so much time in it. I've got new plants which brighten up the rooms, and I've rescued some existing ones from pots that were way too small. It's been exciting to visit a garden centre after weeks of staying at home, and they've been so quiet that the trip was a peaceful one. Although I'm lucky enough to still have my job, I have been worried about what's going to happen and trying to save money as much as I can. These little purchases however have been real treats that I treasure and an important part of making myself feel good in my home.
And that's it really! It's sometimes hard to focus on what makes you feel good in lockdown, but I've really focused on the top things that make my anxiety better: focusing on the sensation of stroking my pet, doing jigsaw puzzles to occupy my mind and baking to give me tasty snacks to look forward to. I'm hoping to keep some of the extra things I've put into place to make me feel more balanced when we come out of lockdown fully.