If you feel a bit guilty thinking about quarantine self care when the world seems to be falling apart, you’re not alone. Here in South Africa, we have been under lockdown for over a month. At the start of May, regulations were eased a bit to allow a three hour outside time for exercise, at the ridiculous hours of 6am to 9am.
People are scared, unsure and stressed about many things. Many jobs have been lost. Many businesses have folded. Those with weakened immune systems are worried about the virus. Some are limiting shop trips to the absolute minimum. Then there are the idiots who do not seem to care or understand the importance of staying home, walking around at random times without masks. Don’t even get me started on the virus deniers and conspiracy theorists.
I am one of the privileged ones. I have a warm, safe house. I am self employed and working in the digital space, which has not had much of an impact so far. I work from home anyway, so lockdown has not been a complete upheaval in that regard. I have WiFi, online shopping, friends and family who care, even if I live alone. I may be budgeting hectically and rationing supplies, but I am surviving. Too many South Africans are not.
With that said, I am still feeling the effects of COVID-19. It feels like we are trapped in a really bad B-grade movie. I am worried about family, here in South Africa and abroad. I hate having to go out, especially as I don’t drive. I am heartbroken about how my city is treating its most vulnerable residents. I am horrified at the police violence that is happening all over the country. I really hate wearing those masks, even though I do it anyway. I feel sad and tired and confused and shell-shocked. Most of the time, I am not even sure why I am feeling so many emotions. Sometimes, I feel guilty for feeling these emotions when so many are dealing with REAL issues, like starvation.
The thing is, COVID-19 is affecting every single one of us, all over the world. None of us are immune to stress or uncertainty. These are unchartered waters we are swimming in and none of has a clue how what will happen. Now, more than ever, we need to practice quarantine self care to survive these times with our sanity intact.
Quarantine Self Care Tips for Lockdown
What does quarantine self care even mean? Is that an actual thing or another buzz word? We know that self care is a thing. If taking care of ourselves is important on a day-to-day basis, it is especially important during a global pandemic. It is not about being selfish or existing in a vacuum outside our communities. It is not about helping ourselves instead of helping others. All it means is making sure that we are equipped to deal with the challenges of lockdown.
Self care during lockdown can mean a few different things. To give you an idea of how it could work for you, here are a few basic steps put into action in your own life.
As obvious as it sounds, your health is something you cannot afford to overlook right now. Aside from the absolute basics of staying home, following lockdown regulations, wearing a mask, and using soap and sanitiser often, you will also need to avoid burnout, minor colds or other ailments. That means eating properly, whatever that means to you. Lots of fresh stuff where possible, and less junk food. Nothing wrong with chocolate now and then (sanity is important for health, too, after all). Try to do some sort of movement each day – walking around your garden, gentle yoga, pilates, HIIT or whatever else gets you moving. Drink water. Take supplements as needed. Listen to your body. If you feel sick or show any signs of COVID, call your doctor to find out where to go for testing.
Lockdown can be deadly for those who live alone, those who are outgoing and struggle to stay at home for long periods, those with depression, and those who are approaching burnout. Isolation is no joke, and mental health becomes a massive challenge when there is no escape from your home and thoughts. It is hard to reach out to people when you are feeling alone and scared or sad. If possible, try to arrange regular calls or video calls with friends and family. I had a Zoom tea party for my 40th birthday recently and it was a great stress-reliever. I’ve had video calls, WhatsApp chats, and regular calls with people I have not seen for a while, even before lockdown. If you struggle to reach out, find just one person – mom, dad, bestie, sister or anyone you feel comfortable asking – and ask them if they can call you or chat a few times a week. This will make you feel a bit less alone. If you are able to go out for exercise or a trip to the shop, make it count. Enjoy these breaks from lockdown.
An essential part of quarantine self care is staying sane. Every single day we are bombarded with news updates from every corner of the globe. In South Africa, we have the government’s regular addresses. We have constant changes to lockdown regulations. On a broader scale, we have Trump spouting his usual nonsense, many loud conspiracy theorists touting crazy things, terrifying updates on infection and death counts, and various other updates. The news is all over our social media timelines. It is being shared on WhatsApp groups, too. Staying up to date on coronavirus is good. Being overwhelmed by news is not. What I have done is limit my Facebook time to mornings and late afternoons. I catch up while I have tea in the morning with the cats. Then I get on with my day. Later in the afternoon, I have tea on the patio and catch up again. I follow loads of groups that make me laugh and I balance out the news and hectic stuff with interaction with friends and family. It makes a HUGE difference.
I see myself as an existential optimist. I try very hard to see the good and I believe that good can still be found in the world. But, I also know that there is little we can do aside from making changes in our own lives and communities. I can sign and share petitions to stop the government from penalising homelessness (and be glad when actual change happens as a result). I can care about the world and its people and do what I can. I cannot stop things from happening, though. I have no power over the virus or the effects it will have on the economy. We are not in control. And that is just the way things go in this world. What I can do is try and be proactive wherever I can. I can look at potential work opportunities. I can find out how to help people in my community – now and after lockdown. I can speak out against injustices. I can get involved and try and be part of the solution, to the best of my ability.
Only time will tell us what happens next. I am trying very hard to keep myself going so that I can get through this time. I may not always stick to a proper self care routine… I will keep coming back to my quarantine self care plan, however, and keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.