Right now it is more important than ever to be taking good care of yourself so you can take care of your family and thrive during this time, rather than just survive. Imagine coming out of this stronger than you were before! More disciplined with things you couldn’t do before! More connected to your family!
I taught my “self care strategies in crisis” to business owners and teachers BEFORE COVID. These strategies are what I used while in a crisis with my family when my son was suicidal. They are not your typical strategies, but they WORK and they are made for crisis.
Going beyond bubble baths or times to read
When we were in crisis there was no time for a relaxing bubble bath or times to sit and read. Instagram posts like that used to annoy me to the core. When you’re struggling with a child who rages continually or is struggling mentally, there is no respite – and right now that is more real than ever.
I would attempt to have a relaxing bath or to sit and read only to be interrupted which would then set the hulk in me loose. Don’t get me wrong, you will get to have a bath, and time to read, but be flexible and realistic. This is not a great top strategy to have at this point when you’re living in close quarters with your whole family.
I recommend sitting your family together in a circle and asking one another, “What do you need today?” Figure out when each person can have the space in the day to do the things they want to do, or have what they need – YOU INCLUDED! Right now, communication is more important than ever. Then respecting what one another needs needs to be followed.
Get clear on what you value
Wait, I thought this blog was about self-care? Is this a typo?
Our culture has a strange view on self care. Caring for ourself means working on building the foundation we stand on. The stronger your foundation inside of you, the stronger you will be through the storms of life. I can’t think of a better time to get clear on what you value. Values isn’t something I hear a lot about these days. My grandparents were always talking about values like loyalty, integrity, perseverance… I don’t hear this anymore. If you don’t know what you stand for, what are you standing on?
When we were in the middle of our crisis I got real with myself about my top three values. They were about to become my anchors. My top three values are:
These values ground me. They remind me of what’s important to me when the winds blow me here and there. They are “square one” I am brought back to when my world is spinning. They are what matter most to me. At the end of each day if I was courageous, compassionate, and persevered through the hard stuff, I’ve done more than enough.
If you do anything while we are quarantined home: get clear on what you value personally and as a family. Let those values anchor you and give you purpose in the midst of our global pandemic.
Remember who you are
Beyond values is something so much more powerful, that is, knowing WHO YOU ARE. You never know what you’re made of until you experience resistance and hardship. As much as we don’t enjoy hard times, they FORM us and make us who we are. I find it interesting the the very things I value are actually who I am. I am courageous, compassionate, and perseverant because of the dark moments in my life that have formed these inside of me.
Do you know who you are? What have hard times formed in you? Take some time to reflect on this and write down what you discover. Choose not to listen to the voice inside that tells you you’re not. You are MORE than you know. Dig deep and tap into the more that you are right now.
I want to remind you that you are immovable, an overcomer, and more resilient than you know.
Ask for help
Now’s not the time do be a rockstar doing everything for everyone. Be sure to divide household tasks among everyone in your family. I used to do everything for everyone which turned me into a pretty resentful mom, always grumbling under my breath how ungrateful everyone in my family was. Then I realized it was ME that had taken on unrealistic expectations of myself and needed to just ask my family to help me.
Declutter your life
Cleaning your house doesn’t sound like “self-care” does it? When our homes are a mess, it affects us and our family. The first thing I did when we were quarantined was organized my house and labelled where everything goes so everyone would know how to clean up. I cleaned my closets so my home didn’t feel frustrating to me. The environments we create physically contribute to our mental health more than we realize.
Creating a COVID budget
If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to create one. I have been sharing budgeting as a self care strategy for a long time because one of the greatest areas of tension in our lives is money. Money creates stress for many, and right now everyone is worried about the economy. We may not have control over a lot of things right now, but I still have control over how much I order skip the dishes or go through the Starbucks drive through. Right now we are tightening up on what we can so we are prepared as possible for the next few months.
Limit your social media
During this time, don’t spend a lot of time scrolling through social media. There’s a lot of fear out there. Take good care of your mental health and get your COVID information from health services and reliable government info only, not from what a friend of a friend of a friend is saying. Use this time to connect on a deeper level with your family and people you love and RESET your brain by not filling it with fear messages.
I control me
Right now living in close quarters there’s bound to be some misunderstandings, ruptures, annoyances, and even blowups! I’ve been teaching myself the last 4 years this one truth: I don’t control anyone – just me. I don’t control my kids (even though I want to), I don’t control my husband (even though I really want to). When I seek to control I resort to all kinds of awful things that disconnect rather than connect – like becoming OCD, yelling, unrealistic punishments, and good ol’ fashioned guilt tactics.
In every rupture take a step back and ask yourself, “What does controlling ME look like here?” and follow through with yourself. This is the first step to creating healthy boundaries. More on boundaries here.
When I put the focus on, “What does controlling MYSELF look like right now?” it changes the game. It puts self control back as the centre player in my life and makes me feel empowered. No one’s mood has to affect me, no one’s actions have to affect me either. I get to choose what I put up with and how I respond and so do you.
No one owes you anything
Letting go of the expectations of others and yourself is one of the greatest self care strategies you can ever implement. When you think of it, does anyone really OWE you anything? Your partner? Your child? How would a relationship feel to you if your other half made you feel like you “owed” them? Relationships that have undercurrents of “owing” one another aren’t built on love and generosity, they are built on keeping score. “You didn’t help me take out the trash so I’m not going to help you next time you ask.” This will destroy relationship and connection in no time. Mental and emotional well being become possible when our love keeps no records of wrongs of ourselves and others.
More than ever we need to hold on to hope right now. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” We literally can feel sick when we lose hope. Our immune system can drop up to 65% when worried, but hope is powerful. For me, I encourage myself every morning in my secret place before the kids wake up. I put my hope in God who always gives me creativity to overcome crisis. I don’t know what faith looks like for you, but there’s never been a time where it is needed more.
I know these 10 self care strategies aren’t your typical, but then again, we’re not in your typical situation right now. Crisis calls for a different kind of action. Adding the typical: exercise, eating well, getting a good sleep, etc will be of added benefit on top of these foundations that will allow you remain STRONG and even to come out STRONGER during this time.
Stay brave my friends.
I am inviting you to my Brave Parents Conference online on Saturday, April 18 from 9:00am-noon MST. It is the official launch of my book, Bring Them Closer, and just look at the line up of speakers!! All of us are coming together right now to give you a FREE conference with tools to not only survive right now, but THRIVE as a family.
Speakers such as Dr Jody Carrington on connection, Dr Wayne Hammond on resilience, Dr Paul Day on trauma, Tammy Shuamuhn from the Institute of Child Psychology, Sara Austin CEO of Children’s First Canada, Andrew Neufeld Clinical Counsellor, Agnes Chen Registered Nurse, Elizabeth Bennet School Principal, Sally King Foster Child Advocate, and myself.
You can register FREE here AND preorder my book as an add on. I have a goal to pre-sell 500 books before the conference and I’m at 155! Would you help me make a difference in families by preordering a book?
Feel free to share the conference link with anyone who needs it right now. No parent left behind as we stand on the frontlines of our children’s lives.