September, School & Self-Care During COVID-19
We’re now 6 months into the turbulent airplane ride also known as COVID-19 and if you’re a parent like me, you still feel like you’re hurtling through the continuously bumpy skies. Metaphorical air masks are dangling, and if you haven’t done it already, you need to put yours on first before you can help anyone around you. It’s ok — I feel that way too and have a few self-care ideas to help my fellow parents navigate the back to school frenzy.
Friend, I’ll be frank. I’m frantically reaching for my mask and simultaneously searching for answers and assurance for my Kindergartener’s anxiety around school.
To cope with a world where life plans feel like they shift with every news day, I’ve put together three basic forms of self-care with some low-cost or free ideas. My hope is that if you incorporate a few of these into your routine, this school season won’t feel as topsy turvy as March did. You probably remember March. It was the spring that lasted 100 years.
Is all about taking care of your body’s most fundamental needs, and not ignoring your body when it is screaming for a break (or some movement).
- Get enough sleep. Honour your body: stick to your bedtime (just like we do with our children, lest they become gremlins), unplug from your screen an hour before bed, and try to follow the same routine. If you wouldn’t let your battery get low on your phone, don’t let yourself get low on energy either. Allow yourself to recharge.
- Movement matters: Healthy adults are recommended to get 150 minutes of heart pumping exercise per week. Want alone time? Crank the tunes and go for a run. Can’t break free from your tiny humans? Include them in your physical activity! Have a pillow fight or go play soccer at the park.
- Try to eat well. At UGM, we serve over 300,000 meals per year, so we know a thing or two about how a good meal can help during the worst of times. Fill your plate with lush greens, complete proteins and healthy grains. If you are worried about being able to feed your kiddos for any reason, consider connecting with UGM’s Women & Families Team, the Harvest Project or your local food bank.
Is when you take care of your feelings. At UGM, staff are provided with emotional self-care tools, like resiliency and boundaries courses. For at self-care at home, we are going to borrow directly from MyJoyInChaos:
- “Identify your feelings. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be named… If you are having trouble understanding how you are feeling, perhaps try finding a feelings wordlist to give it a name.
- Know your love languages. It can seem like a silly thing but knowing how you feel loved and how you show love can be a huge help in not only relationships but in how you take care of yourself!
- Know your indicators. I know that when my patience is running thin and every extra noise is making my shoulders inch closer to my ears that I am running low in my self-care tanks. If I don’t do something soon, I will probably let the mommy-monster out and then immediately regret it.”
(P.S. Teaching your kids emotional intelligence and self-care will serve them for the rest of their lives. What better time to talk about our emotional well-being than in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, when we are all feeling all the feelings… amirite?)
Is all about building a community around you that has your back and setting healthy boundaries.
- Check in with others. At UGM we love checking in with our community members, because we know how much it matters. Providing a safe, judgement-free space for someone to share where they are at can be life changing. Commit to having an honest conversation with your ‘person’. If you’re worried about your mental health and are unsure you have someone you can connect with, check out this list of free or low-cost counselling services.
- Know when to unplug. Social networks, like Insta or Facebook, can be valuable sources of information and entertainment. They can also be a place of division, anger and fear. Unfollow social media accounts that don’t bring you joy, or simply take the weekend to have a digital detox.
It’s a daunting time for all of us out there, regardless of if our kids are heading back to classrooms, or trying out home learning. Taking the necessary time for yourself to recharge and build resiliency is one of the best gifts you can give your family (and honestly, yourself — you are worth taking care and you matter). Stay safe — and put that mask on first — a clear head will help you through these coming months, no matter how bumpy the skies get.
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