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As things start to reopen in LA and vaccination appointments are just about all anyone can talk about, it feels like some pieces of life are returning to normal. With all of these changes, there’s this unseen pressure around decisions to be more social, to do things that feel good but aren’t “against the rules” or plan trips even with a fear of them being “cancelled” because we just don’t know if another surge will rise. There’s pressure surrounding getting vaccinated, especially if you aren’t comfortable with it, and surrounding this rush to get back to activities when you’re more comfortable. We’ve been hearing the “unprecedented times” line for over a year now, and at this point in the pandemic I just want to take a moment to create space for dealing with all of that pressure. How do you make the best decision for you? How do you make that decision and stick to it when it feels like everyone has a conflicting opinion?


Find the most reputable sources of information and Review the facts from all angles: What are the rules anymore? Know that there is no absolute right answer. Like I said—we’ve been hearing the unprecedented times line for over a year. The times are just that: unprecedented. We haven’t seen this before… There’s no rule book. No one knows how to handle this, and no one knows how to handle it best for you better than you do. Take a couple moments to sit and reflect on your own feelings about these decisions, and tune out the noise. It’s awesome to get advice here and there, but the often unsolicited opinions can just roll off your back.


Analyze your emotions: I’ve found that taking a few moments with my journal to let out any feelings I’m having and write out the pros and cons has been a great way to sort through how I’m feeling on my own without setting myself up to receive others’ opinions, concerns, and judgements. If you need more personalized help, therapy is a great place to sort through these thoughts and build up coping skills to have on hand for the rest of this, and that can help you moving forward, too.


Make a choice & Evaluate your decision: At the end of the day, these decisions are about your health and about how you can help those around you. But before you make those decisions, make sure they are reasonable for your mental health, not just your as well as physical health. They are your decisions, after all! You know you best.


As always, if managing this gets to be too much, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or to a therapist in the Los Angeles area. Therapy is a great way to get help with your mental health, even if you just need a few sessions to “tune up” surrounding managing the stress of the world this year.

This morning, as I walked my dog Milo for what feels like the eight thousand two hundred ninety-seventh time during my workday, I realized that it’s November and we’re still working from home, seven or eight months and some change later. As we run toward the joyful (and arguably equally stress-inducing) holiday season, I’m sure I’m not alone as I notice myself slacking on my self-care. Don’t get me wrong, I love having endless access to the holiday cookies in my fridge, being able to take Milo on a mid-afternoon walk, and staying in comfy clothes all day, but working and living in the same space has proven to be a challenge. I know it was time for me to refresh my self care habits, so perhaps these will help you too.


Routine


You’ve heard it again and again, but forming a routine has been extremely helpful. My routine includes making sure I’m prioritizing sleep and hygiene, even when I don’t feel like I have to without heading to the office. It also includes the simple tasks in the morning like making the bed, drawing the curtains to let in enough light, and enjoying my coffee at the table while reading. They’re little things, but they cue my brain that it is time to work. The simple things at night, like washing my face and making sure I’m in bed in time to get enough rest have made all the difference. There are definitely still days where I still roll out of bed and stumble to my computer, but somewhere along the way I started rocking business on top and a sweatpant party on the bottom as a daily uniform, and what I’ve learned lately is that it really helps me to install these micro-rituals in order to help my brain to separate the time better.


5 Priorities


Speaking of separating the time, because we’re spending so much time in one place, it’s easy for it to all start to blend together. With that in mind, I noticed my to-do lists piling up with personal and work (and everything in between) tasks. A good part of your morning routine might be identifying the five tasks on that list that you really want to accomplish. Narrowing it down helps me to focus on getting those five tasks done in a timely manner--and to have compassion with myself when getting through just one seems impossible. Some days are just a little harder than others, and this can make it easier to remind myself that I’m okay and doing what I can to make it work.


Coping Skills


In addition to self-compassion, having options of coping skills at the ready for those tough moments makes a huge difference. If I need to cool down, I can lean on deep breathing, guided imagery, or counting down from ten, if only for one minute. While it may seem daunting, I know I can always find one minute to myself to re-center. Groundbreaking. Taking a breath picturing myself in my happy place at the beach, and imagining the tide taking away my stress, can do wonders for me. If I’ve got a little more time, in under thirty minutes I know I can go on a walk or run, or even toss on a workout video. If getting sweaty isn’t an option, calling friends and family to connect helps a lot, too. Working from home is a lot lonelier than we might have suspected, and connecting with loved ones helps ease that. I find that by keeping this time screen-free, sticking to phone calls rather than texts and facetimes, I can avoid feeling like my day is spent endlessly staring into my computer.


As we mark more days of this on the calendar, maintaining self care the same way that we were for that very first two weeks is important. It may not be plastered across social media, and it’s certainly not all candles and face masks, but it’s absolutely still a priority. Or at least Milo and I think so.



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