Today the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is acknowledge that we are struggling, that right now most us feel anxious, feel terrible, feel stressed.

Stress – pandemic stress, racism stress, election stress, financial stress, graduate school stress – can become overwhelming if we aren’t taking the time to practice excellent self-care.

Self-care right now should be a nonnegotiable part of daily life. Right up there with brushing your teeth. If you don’t have a daily self-care routine, now is the time to start one.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions:

Take it personally. Self-care is most effective when it’s tailored to your body and mind. What works for someone else may not be right for you. For some people, being active is self-care; for others, stillness is key.

If you have tried a sort of generic type of “self-care” and it hasn’t worked for you – keep exploring. Play. Dabble with creative expression, try painting, try knitting, try pottery. Get some fresh air and then try being totally covered by a blanket. Try some ASMR, then try total noise cancellation. Work with contrast and move to the middle. Just keep going.

Consider also that self-care may mean you need to place or reinforce boundaries in your life to protect your mental health. Are you constantly checking social media or the news? Is your phone on and near you 24/7? Clear boundaries around what you consume and who has access to your attention are essential.

Connect with your loved ones. It’s hard to hop back on Zoom after a long week of online learning, but your heart needs this time. Consider new online ways to connect that are different from class – use Zoom as the means of connection but do something together – cook dinner, do a yoga or fitness video, watch a comedy – anything that creates time that is shared.

Plan Ahead. Now is the time to make your post-election game plan. The election – and what might happen after – is on everyone’s mind in a heavy way no matter your politics. What can you put in place this weekend to prepare for next week?

Commit to the practice. Good self-care has measurable improvements to your body and mind. With all the things we cannot control right now, the one thing we can commit to doing is taking time to rest and restore. Start small with 5 minutes each day, and keep this commitment to yourself.

And remember – the care you show yourself will positively impact those around you. So if you struggle right now practicing self-care for yourself, do it for your family, for your clients, for whoever counts on you.

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