It’s safe to say these are wild times. My city is about to go on lock down, I’m seeing all my therapy clients via video chat, and the whole world is out of toilet paper. Figuring out how to take care of yourself during this is crucial, but what works for my self care may not be what you need.
Think about self care with two spectrums in mind. One is Energy, and the other is Return.
Some self care activities don’t require much energy or motivation - low energy. Others do require quite a bit of energy to get going- high energy. So what kinds of self care activities require low energy from you? These are basically things that come easy to you or don’t require a lot of energy to get started.
Then there is the Return. Some self care activities give you deep or lasting joy- high return. While others may just give you some momentary relief- low return. Think about the activities that are really just a distraction, vs. those that truly make you feel better.
So now you have 4 categories to think about.
Low Energy, Low Return
Low Energy, High Return
High Energy, Low Return
High Energy, High Return
Here are a few examples from each category for me. Remember- what is high/low energy and high/low return for me may be totally different for you, and that’s absolutely fine. This is just to help you understand how I use the system.
Low Energy, Low Return - scrolling through social media, watching TV. For me, these things are easy distractions, but don’t give me much lasting joy.
Low Energy, High Return - FaceTime with a close friend, reading a favorite book, meditating. These things don’t require me to have a lot of energy, I could do them on a sick day. But they help me feel much better.
High Energy, Low Return- running (ugh I hate it). Takes a lot of work AND I don’t see a lot of benefits, at least not right away.
High Energy, High Return - yoga, going on a hike. Takes an effort for me, but feels worth it.
How can you use this during COVID-19?
- Factor in Extra Stress and Anxiety
You may not have as much energy as you usually do because there is so much stress and uncertainty in the world right now. If you’re feeling that, it’s absolutely ok to stick to lower energy self care activities. Give yourself that grace.
- Cabin Fever
If you’re staying at home and starting to get wound up or bored, try to find high energy activities that you can do inside or with social distancing, like a work out video or a long walk outside.
- Look for High Return
Whatever energy level you’re capable of right now, try to do at least one high return self care activity per day. We all need to have joy, reward, and meaning in our lives, especially right now.
- Balance All 4 Categories
If you're trying to force yourself to be constantly productive, slow down. And if you realize you're only doing low energy/low return activities, try to think intentionally about what would really make you feel more refreshed.
Whether you're staying at home, in quarantine, or have to be out and working, practice self care in any way you can. I hope this little system can help you balance and prioritize activities in order to stay refueled.