Editor’s note: Originally published May 18, 2020. Still true in October 2020!
My quarantine life is crumbling. I need COVID self-care.
I watch every day as another small piece crumbles away, contributing to the now-obvious decay of a structure that was already being held together with duct tape and a prayer. As my child screams at me to help with his math work while somehow simultaneously refusing to accept any aid, I stare into oblivion at my computer screen — my only portal to any type of social connection.
Should I scroll Facebook one more time to help with my profound emptiness? Should I make myself a drink at 11:27 a.m. instead? Maybe a piece of cake? Is screaming an option? All these thoughts are simply trying to account for something that my life has been devoid of since March: self-care.
COVID Self-care. We live in a world where we are so busy, we have to create a term, and an entire multimillion-dollar industry, for our basic human needs. Drink water. Move your body. Have meaningful relationships. Eat real food. Be creative. Get some sleep. Breathe. Why is it so difficult to do these things? Shouldn’t they come naturally? Shouldn’t it be easier now to do them since no one has a life?
Actually, it’s harder. I don’t know about you, but I am struggling. I literally can’t escape my life right now. Yes, of course I love spending more time with my family, but I don’t want to spend all my time with my family. In the course of the day I have to be a mom, wife, personal chef, cleaning service, art guru, scientist, mathematician, ecosystems expert, fitness instructor, librarian, coding genius, best friend and head of the emotional disaster task force. I am busier now than I ever was in my former life, and at the crux of it, I now have zero time for myself.
So, what now? How do I redefine self-care in the midst of what is happening? The bleak answer is: I don’t know.
I fully admit to failing at this task before me. I used to work out three to four times a week, now I eat cake every day. Or … maybe the cake is the new COVID self-care? In these uncharted waters, perhaps reasonably giving in to things that bring comfort is what we need most. This is a time like no other: Cut off from family and friends, able to only be in the world with precautions and anxiety, uncertain about what the future holds — perhaps the care we need is as simple as letting go of expectations of ourselves and finding moments of comfort.
For now, here’s what I know is helping: walks with our quarantine puppy feed my soul, white rice has become my ultimate comfort food, staying up late while everyone sleeps to get two exhausted hours to myself is worth the tiredness, a drive in the car feels like a vacation, and yes, I will eat the cake.