As anyone who reads anything on the internet has probably noticed, “self-care” is a popular buzzword going around right now. In normal times (what are those again?), it’d be just a nice reminder to go for a vacation, go to a yoga class, or indulge in your favorite restaurant, but in 2020, the concept of self-care has become a bit different. Let’s talk a bit about how you can “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others,” as those old apparitions known as cabin-crew used to say to us when we still rode on planes.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is just that, caring for yourself. It’s a conscious effort to engage in activities that enrich you in whatever, constructive way you feel you need. A lot of us are accustomed to helping others, keeping our clients happy, and doing what’s best for our organizations and can often forget about number one. Taking care of yourself can be extremely difficult, and I speak from experience; it has to be a conscious choice to take actions that are specifically for you. There’s nothing magical about self-care; it’s about whatever it is that is constructive and enriching to you, be it going for a run or baking cookies.
Take Time Off
Americans aren’t known for their vacation habits. The US ranks last of the 36 wealthiest countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, mandating zero, yes a big old goose egg zero, paid vacation, or holidays. The United States is the only country in the group “that doesn’t require employers to give workers annual paid leave, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.” Queue sad trombone… So once you’ve got your time off request approved, what to do in the days of Covid?
Air travel isn’t as attractive as it was just a few months ago. There has been a whopping 73.7%: reduction in commercial flights in April compared to 2019 as tracked by Flightradar24. This isn’t the end of the world, in fact, the drop in CO2 emissions is a short-term silver lining.
Gratify your itch to travel in the great outdoors. No need for TSA pat-downs or tiny liquids bottles! Now is a great time to explore your local area and camp out. Camping has boomed this summer, with camping gear and RV sales at record highs. Just be sure to be kind to the nature you’re enjoying, and practice self-care by not leaving trash at your campsite.
The staycation is maybe your safest bet for 2020. No matter where you live, you can be a tourist in your own town, or even in your home. There are bound to be parks and nature areas you’ve never seen before, restaurants you’ve never had take-out from, and shops you’ve not noticed. Get out the old Google map and have a look around your area for some solid me-time. And if you’re more of a home-body, why not get that garden going or work on some DIY projects around the home? You won’t be alone in your home improvement endeavors in 2020!
Enjoyment of whatever sensible lark you love is radical self-care. Maybe there’s a series on Netflix you can binge for a weekend, or you could let yourself sleep in for once, or pop into your local massage therapist’s for a spa day; read that trashy book you’ve secretly wanted to read; buy those cashmere sweatpants you’ve been obsessing over. Do whatever it is you crave without guilt or judgment. Revel in indulgence. In the wise words of Retta, “treat yo sself!”.
Get a Hobby
Work, work, work, work, work. That’s the mantra it seems from grade school to the grave. With all this toiling, we’ve forgotten that we also need to do, well, other stuff, just for the enjoyment of it. That can be anything from training for a marathon, crafting, cooking, working on old bikes, birdwatching, or losing yourself in a jigsaw puzzle. It’s been shown over and over that hobbies make us happier, so enjoy yourself. Here’s a list of 20 hobbies to boost those happy hormones. So dust off that old craft box, learn a new skill, or take the time to explore your interests with wild abandon.
There’s no better time than the present to do something nice for yourself. Getting into the practice of self-care will allow you to be not only more productive and fresh at work, but also kinder and more patient with yourself and others. Gleaning more satisfaction out of life is what it’s all about, so cheers to you!