Dear Portland, We're in our third week of a declared State of Emergency for COVID-19. Our understanding of the situation and our response at the local, state, and federal levels are rapidly evolving. I'll have a lot to share with you about relief and aid for workers and small businesses tomorrow, but today I want to focus on how we're taking care of ourselves. Like many of you, my days have become blurred without the usual structures and routines in place. I've been working around the clock, forgetting to eat, and not getting enough exercise. My one saving grace is that I've begun sleeping eight hours a day--something I typically struggle to do as a night owl. This morning, I took some time to think about what I needed to do to take care of my mental, emotional, and physical health, and I want to encourage you to do the same. I started by making a schedule in an attempt to give my days some structure, including meals, breaks from the computer, housework, and daily exercise. I recommitted to doing the things I know I need to do to feel my best under normal circumstances, such as daily stretching, meditation, and walking. I started therapy last summer to help manage my stress and anxiety levels. Although I've been tempted to cancel during this crisis--there's always other work I could be doing--I've found it helpful to have a reason to pause and reflect for at least one hour every week. I'm an introvert and a homebody at heart, so I'm doing okay with social isolation so far. But I've also got extra incentive to keep to myself--my son is in the high-risk category and requires 24/7 hands-on care. It's impossible to practice social distancing with him, so his dad and I have become his sole care providers. Even if no one in your immediate family is high-risk, you likely know someone who is. If you're struggling with social isolation, perhaps thinking of them and how you're reducing risk to everyone in your community could help you persevere. Finally, I'm staying in touch with friends, family, and neighbors because staying connected is self-care and care for others! I live in a small courtyard apartment complex, and we are all working together to keep our common spaces safe and help each other as needed. People are organizing free dance parties, sing-alongs, exercise classes, skill shares, and mass meditations online! What if we all took a few minutes a day to reach out to friends near and far just to let them know they're in our thoughts? It's a small but meaningful gesture at a time where we must find new ways to connect.
We all have roles to play during this crisis--whether it's minimizing risk to others by staying home or providing essential services to our community. I know our natural impulse is to put others before ourselves, but this may be a long haul, and we need to keep our minds clear, our spirits up, and our bodies healthy to make it through.
Stay safe and take care,
"Self Care" screen print by Molly Fair. Available at Just Seeds.