• Renee Koh

Self-Care, even if you don't feel like caring

It’s a strange period of our lives, and the idea of self-care has become even stranger.

The ultra-productive quarantine lifestyle has long been scorned as one of those things to make us feel bad that we haven’t baked a cheesecake this week or that we haven’t used this “blessed free time” to start a new business venture, etc etc. None of those is expected of us now, and all we are meant to do is survive and ensure that our mental and physical states do not degrade more than necessary.

There is a space, however, in between lying in bed for 12 hours a day bingeing Netflix and eating ice cream and the never-ending hustle that was life before quarantine.

Between exercise and Netflix (swapping dopamine sources)

It might be a drag to even think of the idea that we could do a little stretching in the morning, or follow along with that 15-minute workout routine on YouTube, or even do some yoga in your pyjamas that you haven’t changed out of before your shower. But it will only replace one episode of watching Pam and Jim have another misunderstanding in The Office. You can always watch that episode later anyway.

Between sleep and that pesky assignment due on Sunday (listening to your serotonin)

It’s 2 am, and you haven’t slept before 3 am for 4 consecutive days. But that assignment is looming over your head and you haven’t been able to figure out that one part that’s been worded a bit differently from your lecture examples which makes everything not make sense. Go to sleep. It might hurt you to think that you’re missing an hour of work you could have done before you went to sleep, but just set your alarm for the morning an hour earlier (set 3 alarms, if that’s what you need) and do your assignment then. I promise it’s better than trying to force your body to work against its own biological clock, and that pounding in your head might just abate a little.

Between eating well and ice cream (your gut will thank you)

Remember that ice-cream I was talking about before? It’s cold, it’s sweet, and most importantly, it makes you feel better than the endless drone of boredom that living in isolation is. However, you also have fruits in your fridge and rice crackers in your pantry. You (or your parents) are going to be making a pretty big dinner later too, so you didn’t have to eat the entire tub.

Bottom line

Self-care doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always coincide with what we want, or what we feel we should be doing to maintain grades and keep ourselves “happy” right now, but in the end, it will always be better for our bodies and our mental states, and that’s what matters.

Art by @stephanieshank on Insta


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