What Does Self-care Look Like In A Post-lockdown World?

Learning how to look after yourself in a world that is repairing itself.
SHA Wellness Clinic

I think it is fair to say that the last 12-odd months have not gone the way any of us could have predicted; it has been a time of panic, stress, and loss for so many people. Even though things are on the mend, we are all emerging from this pandemic in the shadow of the aftermath. We all spent a lot of time, in the height of covid-19, learning how to look out for the people around us, but now it is time to start looking out for ourselves. 

With any form of self-care, the first essential step is the realise that what you are doing needs to be rooted in a desire to care for yourself. As a community, we need to realise the physical, mental, and emotional effects of living through a global pandemic. We all collectively went through something that was completely new to us; we were scared, some of us were alone, and many of us lost people we knew and loved. It is good to be positive and be thankful that we can go to the corner shop without fear of infection anymore, but we need to treat ourselves the way we deserve. Successful self-care begins with an understanding of wellness and the aspiration to improve your wellbeing.

In the lieu of our national situation, I would begin by analysing your personal situation. Put yourself in the centre of what is happening; how did lockdown effect you? What sacrifices did you make? What are you missing that you need to make up for? Avoid comparing yourself those around you. Your reactions and emotions are dependent on the person you are and the experiences you have. Even people who experience the same things might not necessarily have the same methods of self-care, so spend some time getting to know yourself. Figure out what areas of yourself and your psyche need the most help and go from there. 

Lockdown was a good chance to learn new things and pick up new habits, but for some people, that could be overwhelming. It is great to explore new hobbies, as long as those hobbies are enriching your life and making you feel fulfilled. Coming out the other side of lockdown, now might be a good time to explore something new or pick up an old pastime that you gave up for whatever reason. It is very easy to become exhausted with work, school, or whatever takes up most of your time. But remember, your time is your time! Try and fill it with things that bring you happiness. After being occupied with very little during lockdown, we are all in a position now where we are being reintroduced to the world, the perfect time to learn something new with an open mind.

Something that I learnt while in quarantine was the value of the people around me; I depended a lot on my friends and family to keep me going when some days felt worse than others. However, this also forced me to re-evaluate the sincerity of those people. I realised that in times of emotional distress, it is okay to be a little selfish and put yourself first sometimes. Lockdown was something so unique, because it is an experience that only those who lived through it will be able to understand, and it is so unlike anything any of us have ever encountered. Because of this, it is only natural that we, as people, banded together. As we re-introduce ourselves to the world, it is vital for our own survival to have dependable people around us to lift us up through the difficult days. 

Another thing I learnt during lockdown was to be open and honest about my emotions, specifically my mental health. I believe we all learnt the value of opening up to those around us, and reaching out when we are needing support, which is something that we should applaud in ourselves; too often do we brush things under the carpet and deem not vital enough to speak on, but living in a time of shared global panic, I was glad to see the people around me coming to terms with the fact that it is okay to ask for help when you need it. This is a notion that is going to be essential to carry on into life outside of covid-19. Looking after yourself in a society that is slowly mending itself is already challenging, so let yourself be vulnerable with those around you because no good will come from bottling it all up. You know what they say: a problem shared is a problem halved. 

This may be ironic coming from an internet-obsessed young person, but making time to be offline will make a significant impact on your self-care practices. During lockdown, we were all brought together via the internet; when we didn't have the opportunity to meet in real life, spaces like TikTok and Twitter were a means of connection between people around the world. While this is a positive thing, it is now time to take a step back from the phones and know when it is time to log off. It is very easy to get caught up in social media, but in looking after your self-interest, it is worth getting to know how the internet can be negatively affecting your mind. It can be scary to remove something so essential to your life, so begin with just a few hours a few times a week, or just whenever you feel yourself bored of scrolling. Fill that time with anything you like but try to stay away from technology. It is a lot easier said than done, especially when we are a society obsessed with tech; always trying to be faster, bigger and better, but that it is not how the mind works. Give your psyche a shock and try and get your screen time down. 

My last piece of advice for giving yourself some well-deserved TLC in a world that is slowly emerging from a global pandemic is to celebrate every win, no matter how little. After quarantine, I have definitely learnt to appreciate the small things in life, and it is a shame that it took everything being stripped down to its core for me to realise it but we actually are surrounded by some wonderful things. That is not to say that life does not come with its challenges because that is an unfortunate guarantee, but that only means that we have to combat those struggles wherever we find them. Sometimes it does take a few steps back to see the bigger picture and notice the things that you otherwise would have overlooked. I think it is time that we give ourselves a pat on the back for living through a pandemic and accept the fact that we deserve to feel good. 

I think successful self-care is, firstly, an acknowledgment of your own worth and understanding that you are deserving of care, but also it is a desire to feel better and look after yourself. This comes with surrounding yourself with things that enrich your life and striving to be a positive influence to others, but in a post-lockdown environment, it is time we take extra care with ourselves and give our minds and bodies the replenishments we deserve after making it through to the other side. 

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