Let’s start with an understatement. Family caregivers are experiencing added stress and worry during this COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, self care is more important than ever. Are you checking in with yourself, and taking care of your needs as well as the needs of others? We encourage a daily routine of self care and provide questions to help create this routine.
- Who am I going to connect with today?
As we all (surely) know, we need to be physical distancing, not social distancing. Connecting with others helps us get through this pandemic in a better mental and emotional state. Social connections have always been deemed extremely important for family caregivers. During stressful times (hello COVID-19), connecting with others is a fantastic buffer to the stress. It’s also a way to remind one another that we are all in this together. How about choosing at least two people to socially connect with today?
- When am I going outside today for some ‘Vitamin N?
The science is clear about the benefits of being outside in nature (Vit N). This is really good news because going outside for a walk is one of the few things we can do during this COVID-19 pandemic. And if it is literally impossible to make your way to the trees and grass, you and the person you are caring for can even benefit from looking at photos or scenes of nature and plants.
- What am I going to ‘accept’ today about the current situation?
We are all experiencing significant loss and changes. It is important to acknowledge and name these losses (freedom of movement, routines, full grocery shelves, and on and on). At the same time, there is no value in holding on to the past, lamenting the past, or wishing it were different. These thoughts and feelings are a recipe for misery. What can you ‘accept’ today about what is happening? Acceptance is not to be confused with resignation. Resignation is passive (like giving up), whereas acceptance is active. It is more like saying to yourself that ‘it is what it is’ AND ‘this is what I am going to do to work with and get through ‘what is’.
- How am I going to keep my worry and anxiety in check today?
With the steady diet of uncertainty and worrisome news and reports, we need to take deliberate actions to keep ourselves calm, or calmer. This is good for all the people in your world because, while anxiety is a contagion, so is calm!
- What is the one kind thing I am going to do for myself today?
Sure, it’s always nice when someone else does something kind for us. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ourselves, so ask yourself what the one kind thing is you will do for yourself today. Treat yourself how you would treat a dear friend. You will bring a ‘happier’ you to your relationships and family life if you are kind to yourself.
- What am I grateful for today? Gratitude is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the COVID-19 pandemic. During these difficult times, we may be more inclined to think about what we don’t have, and what we can’t do. We encourage you to turn your attention to what you do have and what you (still) can do. This is the essence of being thankful, being grateful. And there is a great deal of research which shows the benefits of gratitude, everything from feeling more positive emotions, sleeping better, expressing more compassion and kindness, and even having a stronger immune system (obviously something we are all particularly interested in right now!)
These are the questions we suggest asking yourself each day. Do you have some additional ones you would like to add to the list? Let us know.