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15 COVID-19 Self-Care Rituals I'll Be Taking From 2020 Into 2021

2020 was full of transformation, grief, resilience and honing our personal coping strategies. As the year progressed and the world took on a shape and form none of us had ever witnessed before, we were all pushed far beyond our comfort zones and asked to shift routines, modify self-care practices and change almost every aspect of our everyday lives in order to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities as safe as possible.

Within several weeks of hearing the words “COVID-19” for the first time, many of us found ourselves subject to some form of quarantine, lockdown or shelter-in-place order. The shock was immediate and the surreal nature of the experience left us continually asking ourselves “Is this really happening?” Attempting to chart a path forward using familiar resources and coping strategies was simply no longer possible for many, often resulting in what felt at times, like a groundless “free fall”.

In the ensuing weeks and months, resources to help cope with extended stay-at- home orders poured out from innumerable media sources. There were celebrities hosting Instagram Live sessions, fitness studios going virtual (many offering free access), university online courses suddenly available to the public, meditation challenges, book clubs, Zoom happy hours– the list went on and on.

We asked our Facebook community here at The Mighty to share some of the surprising self-care habits, rituals and supportive tools that helped them get through the year.

The list we compiled is a beautiful mosaic that illustrates how differently we each manage, process and move through the challenges of life while tending to our personal well-being. 

Whether by running, crocheting, landscaping, cooking or meditation– each strategy that our community shared with us is an example of the courage and creativity we were all called on to cultivate in our self-care routines in 2020.

Here’s what our community had to say: 

 1.“Paint pouring…my friend gave me a kit for Christmas last year and I introduced it to one of my elderly clients as a form of therapeutic crafting. Then the pandemic hit, and I wasn’t able to return to work so I took up paint pouring as a means of stress relief.” Jennifer L.

2. “I sew. I had to buy 100 hangers to sort through my closet cause I make myself new stuff every time my borderline personality disorder (BPD) starts dragging me down. Focusing on a project, big or small, is incredibly soothing and good for self esteem.” Marie R.

3. “I got really into house plants this year. The act of gardening (having my hands in soil, watering, pruning, observing, all of it) was grounding and so very rewarding. I now have several houseplants that bring me joy on a daily basis.” Vanessa L.

4. “I started teaching myself digital art. It’s my form of mindfulness. I found an instructor on YouTube and Patreon (Art with Flo) and felt myself reconnecting with my creative roots. It helped me de-stress and refocus when my anxiety was feeling exceptionally high or out of control.” Blair B.

5. “Making jams and jellies. I moved houses last February and there are so many wild fruits growing locally I started walking, foraging and making jam/jelly/chutney and giving it to people. I find it really soothing, particularly watching it when it reaches a lovely rolling boil.” Anna J.

6. “I unexpectedly picked up jogging this year. I went for a walk after a difficult day and ended up jogging for a straight mile, something I thought I could never do. Not only has this helped me control my breathing and pace, but also allowed me to feel all of my emotions. What makes it even better is a great playlist to listen to while enjoying this.” Andrea V.

7.“I really got into crochet. I would work on stuffed toys almost everyday. The repetitive motions were soothing and having to keep track of counting stitches occupied my mind. Also, knowing my creations would make someone smile was a great motivator.” Rita T.

8. “I have explored different stitches and attempted new projects with crocheting. Crocheting gives me a productive outlet to channel my anxious energy and when I finish a project it lifts my depressed mood a bit.” Mary E.

9. “ I started collecting rocks to paint, seal and hide out in the community. It got me out [the house] and walking more and getting more active. I feel better [than] before I started.” Tatauq H.

10. “I started playing some cute games on my iPad I can get lost in. This one is called ‘Merge Dragons’ and it’s super cute and pretty easy to play. I build an island and slowly but surely my dragons merge together to make better dragons and I get rewards for plants on the island. I get lost in this game (and other cute games) all the time when I need to step away from the world mentally.” Shelby B.

11. “Knitting baby jackets for ‘Wrapped in love’.” Els S.

12. “Hiking. I have a new lease on a healthy life!” Megan B.

13. “Cross stitch, after my grandma passed earlier this year, she had left over supplies, so I took it up to help with grief and just calm my mind.” Michelle D.

14. “I started baking! Sourdough didn’t work out so well haha but I found that macarons are my thing. I have a science background, so the chemistry and experimenting was fun. Time consuming, sometimes frustrating, not convenient with young kids– but that final product is so rewarding! And knowing people appreciate the treats is a mega bonus.” Abbey C.

15. “I’ve been painting my nails a lot more as a form of self care! Been enjoying using colors that resonate with how I feel at that moment, as well as being able to just sit and do something for myself for a few hours at a time!” Kira M.

The variety of responses, tools and strategies in this handful of responses highlight how truly individual supportive self-care habits are.

So many of us were faced with personal grief on top of community, nationwide and global ramifications of COVID-19 and truthfully, the mere act of bringing mindful awareness to our emotions and naming them can be incredibly powerful when faced with difficult circumstances. The inability to gather and grieve loved ones in the ways we normally do made the grief process different than ever before. What a beautiful way to honor a loved one and hold them close. 

When I look at everything listed above I feel warm. Getting lost while creating art is one of the best ways to enter the “flow state.” Channelling stress into a physical activity, like running, can help unload tension in our mind and body. Self-care activities like these that “piggyback” on each other; combining fresh air, physical activity and health benefits, were a true gift this year. Sewing, knitting, crochet and even needlepoint all work on calming the nervous system through distraction and steadiness.  

What is helpful for one person, might be incredibly stressful to someone else. What relaxes me, might be the catalyst that sets off patterns of overthinking or worry for my friend.

When COVID-19 and its far reaching impacts entered our daily lives, there was no “one size fits all” way to respond. Nearly one year later, there is still no “best way” to deal with the emotional toll that it takes on each of us to live amidst a global pandemic.

There is simply your way, and it is unique to you, as the one-of-a-kind soul you are with your own irreplaceable set of experiences, circumstances, needs, limitations, likes and dislikes. Rest in the comfort of trusting that whatever brings you a sense of inner peace is the perfect way for you to craft your self-care.

Image courtesy of Getty Images