I haven’t written in FOREVER, but, I’m continuing to work on self-compassion so my official stance on that is: it is what it is. The past several months have been some of the wildest months. I had so many intentions for Spring Break 2020, but life clearly had a few Draw 4 cards in its hand. COVID-19 abruptly pushed the school year into a Distance Learning format. My break turned into quarantining at home with the kids 24/7 for weeks on end. As if there couldn’t have been better timing, my wife began a new job that deems her an essential employee and requires her to work 10-hr days. Thus, I was thrust into being a stay-at-home parent of budding twin threenagers while also being a teach-at-home educator, delivering second grade lessons in an online format.
And as if juggling twin toddler parenthood, figuring out how to engage class of 8 year-olds via Zoom, and living with the uncertainty of a virus that no one fully understands wasn’t enough, the chronic disease known as racism entered a major flare-up with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and too many others to recount at the hands of folks who are meant to protect and serve. Protests beyond the scale the country has ever seen erupted here and across the world.
So, how have I been dealing? I haven’t.
About 3 weeks into quarantine, I began having severe back spasms. By week 4, I was barely sleeping. My nights became short pockets of light sleep with bizarre dreams that were frequently broken up by an avalanche of anxious thoughts pummeling through my mind. By week 5, I was so exhausted and stressed out that I began having panic attacks for the first time in my life. The first time I had a panic attack, I was certain I was about to die.
As all of this was unfolding, I knew I needed to prioritize self-care and rest. But with very little time to myself after all the daily responsibilities of parent and teacher were done, taking care of myself became nearly impossible to accomplish. I did try. I incorporated guided meditations to my morning and evening routines, took aromatherapy baths, indulged myself with face masks and foot baths, and began to take my dog on longer morning walks. These things helped, but I was still struggling and anti-sleeping.
After leading a few weeks of leading a virtual summer camp (I originally committed to it before COVID-19 hit and decided to switch to virtual format instead of canceling for the sake of the kids), I’m only just now coming up for air. It’s felt great to take my time, rest, and do more things for myself during the past few days. I’m well aware that this next school year is going to be even more challenging than how the previous one ended and I am still experiencing anxiety about the current state of our country. This time right now is definitely just the eye of the storm, but I’m choosing to embrace the (comparative) calmness and seizing every opportunity to nourish my spirit. Here are some ideas I’ve generated for myself:
My Self-Care Buckets
Read: discover new BIPoC and/or LGBTQ+ authors, delve into genres and sub-genres that I wouldn’t typically gravitate towards
Small Home Projects: organize that space I’ve always wanted to, try some DIY landscaping/gardening ideas, try some new recipes, paint with watercolors
Write: Blog when I feel inspired, continue working on my next book
Watch: Nature documentaries make me feel calm and help me gain perspective on the human-related matters that often feel so consuming
Treat Yo’ Self: continue to take aromatherapy baths, apply nourishing face masks, eat yummy food, exercise to feel good (not to challenge/push physical limits)
Self-Talk: Notice when I am being hard on myself -> label -> redirect focus to the present moment, give myself grace when I forget/make mistakes…these are difficult times and expecting 110% from myself is unfair, take deep breaths and meditate when I start to feel known body signals of anxiety