With phrases like “self-quarantine” and “shelter in place” now a part of our daily lexicon, it’s obvious that we are living in an unprecedented time in our history. Though many aspects of our society have slowed or come to a standstill, life must go on. And even as we see glimmers of hope as the country begins to slowly open up again, many LLC owners and their teams are continuing to work from home.
While the adjustments we've made over the last couple months have been difficult and stressful, it remains vitally important that we protect our health — both physical and mental — and remember to prioritize our self-care as we keep a close eye on the evolving situation.
With psychologists and mental health app creators reporting spikes in clients and customers, our collective mental health has never been so important. Here, we are outlining seven ways you can practice self-care during these times.
1. Stick to Your Routine
Before the pandemic, you likely had a daily schedule: get up, go to work, attend meetings, go home, etc. For many, the rules that governed our daily lives have now been broken, and it’s difficult to suddenly have so much time to manage. Keep these tips in mind:
Set your alarm. It’s easy to see this period as an excuse to sleep in, or stay up late binging your favorite show. Those things are great in moderation, but sticking to a normal wake/sleep schedule is important for both your physical and mental health. Wake up at your usual time each day, and fight the temptation to stay up late.
Put on your pants. It’s comforting and comfortable to stay in sweats all day, but as psychologist Dr. Jenny Yip says in this video, after a while, it can chip away at your mental health. You don’t have to dress for dinner during a quarantine, but putting on real clothes (something you’d wear out if you could) can go a long way towards maintaining a feeling of normalcy.
Eat regular, healthy meals. It’s important during this time to eat at regular mealtimes and to avoid the temptation to overindulge in unhealthy snacks or sweets. Ultimately, it will only leave you feeling unfulfilled, guilty or unsatisfied.
Distinguish work time from downtime. As a business owner, you already understand the temptation to work when you’re off the clock. But remember that routine matters, and your mental health requires some downtime. In addition, try to designate a separate workspace in your home. This will help with transitioning from work time to relaxing time.
2. Reach Out to Others
Isolation can be a little, well, isolating. And while we know flattening the curve is important and effective, many of us are just plain over it. Now that states are creating reopening plans, we're itching to get out even more. However, for many of us, it's safer to remain at home for the time being. If that feels like an overwhelming and discouraging prospect, you're not alone. No, really — you aren't. Thankfully, with today’s technology, social distancing doesn't have to mean being socially isolated.
Maintain your relationships. If you have a spouse or partner, you’re probably getting either really comfortable with each other or really uncomfortable. Talk through your needs and expectations now, and keep the lines of communication open. Make sure each person has time to themselves. Also plan couple or family time, and take advantage of this opportunity to be together in a way that’s become rare in our society today.
Use technology to stay in touch. We’re fortunate to live in a time in which technology can bring us together, even when we’re far apart. Keep using video chat apps like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or Facebook Messenger to check in with family, friends and coworkers, but also be mindful of those who have "Zoom fatigue" after too many video calls, and give them a break when needed.
Check on the elderly or ill. Our most vulnerable population is still at the greatest risk, and often feel worried. Give them a call to let them know you’re thinking of them, and make sure their needs are being met. Offer to drop off groceries for a neighbor or set up their iPads so grandparents can see their grandkids.
Do something kind for someone else. In difficult times, it’s natural we put ourselves and our families first. But now that you've muddled through this far, try doing something kind for another person. Drop some toilet paper off at a neighbor’s, host a hands-free drop-off book or puzzle exchange or send a local restaurant gift card to a friend.
3. Get Back to Nature
It’s been proven that being in nature can have a healing or restorative impact on your well-being. Right now, while many businesses are temporarily shuttered or reopening at reduced capacity, most parks and green spaces remain open. It’s a great way to get a break from being housebound, practice mindfulness and remember that you’re part of a big, beautiful world outside.
Just breathe. It doesn’t matter if your backyard is a sprawling farm or a balcony the size of a postage stamp, open the doors, step out and breathe in the air. The benefit of the pandemic is a decrease in pollution, so treat yourself to some of the freshest, healthiest air around, and take it all in.
Take a walk. Being outside at a park or on a nature trail is a great way to practice social distancing while still experiencing the world around you. You may even run into some other hikers getting their own nature fix (just keep that six-foot distance while you smile and say hello).
Watch birds from the window. No matter where you live, there are likely some native or migratory birds flying through this time of year. Put out a small feeder, pick up a pair of binoculars and write down what you see. You’ll be amazed at the life that’s happening right outside your window.
Plant something and watch it grow. As our lives are forced to take on a slower pace, enjoy it by planting some seeds and patiently waiting for them to sprout. Even if you don’t have a large outdoor garden, a few pots and a sunny window are enough to grow something green and good. Bonus points for sharing whatever flowers, fruits or veggies you harvest!
Discover a new hobby. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play that guitar you’ve had in the closet since college. Or perhaps you want to practice a useful and timely skill like canning or sewing face masks. Find something you enjoy, set small goals and give yourself the time to learn.
Learn how to cook. Your family will thank you, and so will your waistline. It’s tempting to snack on comfort foods during this time, but it’s far healthier to eat regular, balanced meals. Plus, kitchen skills are valuable and useful at any time — not just during a pandemic.
Take up a new exercise. Staying active during self-quarantine is important to both your physical and mental well-being. This is the perfect time to try out some yoga videos on YouTube, practice your barre positions or go for a run.
5. Unplug Every Now and Then
Technology is a lifesaver right now, but it’s also important to find the delicate balance between using it as a helper, and becoming completely reliant on it.
Set aside phone-free time. Whether it’s no phones after 8:00 p.m., or putting them away before sitting down to dinner, try to incorporate a few low-tech hours into your day.
Take breaks from the news. While it’s important to stay on top of current events, especially during a situation like the one in which we currently find ourselves, it’s easy to get burned out, overwhelmed and panicky when the flood of information becomes too much. Set aside certain times to check your Facebook feed, watch the evening news or read the morning paper. Outside of that, tune out all the noise.
Don’t make every evening a Netflix evening. What would we do without Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and Disney+ during this mess? As thankful as we all are for streaming services, it’s a little too easy to get sucked in and forget what really matters. Enjoy your escape from reality, but when Netflix asks if you’re still watching something, think about selecting “no.”
6. Work Smarter, Not Harder
In the early days, wearing PJs to meetings seemed like a fun novelty. Now, the shine has worn off, and you're lucky if you even roll out of bed for that 9:00 a.m. Zoom meeting. Adjusting to working from home (especially when you're also doing literally everything else at home) is tough, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself, your colleagues and your employees.
Keep communication flowing.Connection is critical at a time like this, as many people feel untethered and at sea in the uncertainty of the current situation. Be an anchor for them by making yourself available as much as possible. Keep important meetings, but schedule regular check-ins, too — no business talk required.
Adjust your expectations. That means the expectations you set for your team, but also the expectations you set for yourself. We're going through a collective trauma, and every individual handles the stress in their own way. Allow yourself to feel unmotivated at times, and give yourself permission to take breaks when you need them. If you manage a team, offer that same permission to them. Many are facing the challenge of working from home while parenting, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, acting as entertainment coordinator and a hundred other things. Give them — and yourself — a little grace.
Be open to adapting. Keep an eye on your team's levels of engagement and stress, and be willing to adjust accordingly. This is a time for flexibility, which can be hard when all you want to do is nap and then browse Hulu. Again. Shake things up for yourself and your team by trying something new. Select a mutually interesting webinar everyone can take and then have a Zoom discussion afterward. Screenshare and watch industry videos together. Ask everyone to bring their favorite coffee mug, wear silly socks or let their kids and pets run wild — you get the idea. Try to keep it light and fun, while still getting the work done.
7. Look Forward to the Future
Right now, this situation may seem interminable. But, with states beginning to plan and implement reopening plans, there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. This isn't over yet, but a brighter future is in our sights.
Plan to make up birthday celebrations. Those with birthdays in May and June may be celebrating alone this year. Make a plan to gather friends and family together after the pandemic to celebrate missed birthdays.
Plan a small trip. It might be a while before the travel industry is back on its feet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for a small excursion once it’s safe to do so. Research hidden gems close to home, and find a new spot to explore when things are back to normal.
Pick the first restaurant you want to eat at and plan the menu. In most cities and states, restaurants and bars are still shut down to eat-in dining. By now, you've become familiar with your favorite carry-out or delivery spots, but you might have forgotten the experience of dining out. Don't worry — the day is coming. Pick your favorite restaurant and start planning every delicious course.
One important note: Self-care is incredibly important at a time like this, but so is trusted medical care. Many therapists offer video or text sessions if needed. If you’re feeling lost or worried in isolation, reach out. The CDC recommends continuing any mental health treatment, including taking prescription medication as directed.
In the meantime, Incfile is still here for you. We know you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about your business right now, and we want to help as much as we can. If filing taxes is your primary concern, then we're happy to guide you through this tumultuous time. You can directly get in touch with us if you have any questions or click on the link below for professional tax services.
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).