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Selfcare for Caregivers

As parents and caregivers, it’s so easy for selfcare to slip to the bottom of the list. In these stressful times, when our children and elders are homebound selfcare is not just important–it’s essential. 

Nina Munk, our Director of New Business and Seattle-based single mama shares some gentle tips on how parents and caregivers can incorporate selfcare into their daily routine to stay (mostly) sane. 

My 6-year-old daughter and I have been in quarantine in our home since the beginning of March. Her school was one of the first to close in Seattle, following the Covid-19 outbreak. I am so fortunate to have the luxury of being able to work remotely for OSEA, however, when you add kids to the mix, suddenly work isn’t so easy. Between my frequently child-interrupted Zoom meetings, to homeschooling my little one, to cooking, cleaning and working late into the night to meet deadlines while my favorite tiny co-worker sleeps, I’ve been struggling to maintain my normal selfcare rituals. Here are some of my newly adopted life hacks for selfcare in times of stress. Spoiler alert: basic is enough!

1) Make time for yourself–even for just 10 minutes a day. 

See, I set the bar really low. You got this! For me, ten minutes of selfcare is an aromatherapeutic evening soak (while my daughter is sleeping) with Gigartina Therapy Bath. I’ve scheduled this into my Google Calendar as a recurring event at 8:30 PM nightly.  My other quarantine hack is using Undaria Body Polish in the bath. Scrub that stress away. Lavender melts muscle tension, while hemp oil hydrates, giving you the perfect excuse to just skip moisturizer. I’m not lazy, I’m just tired. 

2) Sleep. In times of stress, 8 hours isn’t always possible, but this might help. 

A drop or two of Vagus Nerve Oil is all you need to calm your nerves and lull you to sleep. This golden elixir is my desert island product. P.S. I actually live on a desert island, or at least it feels that way. I massage this onto the back of my neck every night before bed. This is the stuff that helps me sleep and soothes my mama tension and fears. The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body and is thought to help regulate sleep, stress and digestion. Read more about it here

3) Disconnect. When you need a break, try turning your phone to do-not-disturb and disabling news alerts. 

I subscribe to the Seattle Public Health Covid-19 daily news alerts (as well as dozens of others. Yes, I’m obsessed.). While I like to stay informed, I often end up reading the news instead of washing my face and sleeping. Hot tip: disable and “do-not-disturb” EVERYTHING at 9:00 PM and unsubscribe to stressful listservs. Both iPhones and Androids have do-not-disturb capabilities. Don’t worry, when you need to read the news, it will be there! 

 

 

4) Do one self-care ritual a day that makes your FACE feel good. 

Maybe it’s Gua Sha. Maybe it’s just washing your face. Masking used to be part of my nightly self-care routine. But lately, staying awake long enough to remove a mask has felt overwhelming–even when three minutes is all that it takes. Three minutes literally feels like a luxury right now, especially at night. I’ve been throwing on White Algae Mask a few times a week at bedtime to brighten my quarantine complexion. Sometimes I pass out before it’s time to remove it. Guess what, that’s totally fine. This mask is safe to sleep in!

5) Disconnect some more. 

While Zoom/FaceTime/Netflix viewing parties can uplift and help us feel connected during this period of social distancing, too much “connected” screen time can diminish the precious little time that as parents and caregivers we have to be alone–and equally important, present with our children. Children are not immune to the stress of this pandemic, and it’s important that we show up and make space for them however we are able.  I try to carve out what I call some special time each day with my daughter where I am fully present with her.  We play games (chess is our favorite), practice Spanish, draw together and read stories. We are reading the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis to each other for the 2nd time. Audible is offering free audio books for children for as long as schools are closed. My daughter and I also squeeze in some self-care rituals together. We practice deep breathing, give each other facial and foot massages and go on walks and bike rides while maintaining safe social distance. Have you seen the flowers and the trees? They are bursting! Spring has not been canceled and right now for me it’s the greatest show on earth.

6) Be Realistic.

As a parent (working or not) and newly-minted homeschool teacher try not to get hung up on performance. There is a harmful myth circulating on social media that staying home means that you somehow have more time for everything. I don’t know about you, but I actually don’t have time to bake my own bread, make every meal from scratch or take up a new hobby or craft or practice playing the cello. As a working parent, I also don’t have the time to homeschool my child in the exact way that I might like. My daughter is not going to become fluent in Spanish or learn to code by the time school starts back up again in September. And guess what, that’s fine! Be kind to yourself. You’re doing your best. I’m doing my best. Survival and love are enough right now.

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