Self-care during a pandemic: How do you recharge?

Clients, employees, kids, commitments—these vital parts of daily life bring both satisfaction and challenges. But together they can suck your energy. Add the short, dark days of a long winter along with the extra challenges of living during a pandemic, and, like that Chevy you drove in college, you may find yourself needing a jump-start.

How can you avoid burnout and recharge your battery? Here are a few suggestions:

Power Up!
Ideally, a week (or three) in the Bahamas would do the trick. But if a lengthy vacation to a tropical island isn’t in the cards, why not create a mini stay-cation of your own? Often all it takes is a day “away” to rejuvenate.

One of my clients keeps his Fridays as unscheduled as possible so he can head to his lake cabin. “I go into ‘lake mode’ by the time I hit the highway,” he says. “My cabin is where I relax and decompress.”

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t take care of business while he’s out. “Technology has allowed me to be more productive and more flexible. It actually makes it easier to get away while still being available if necessary.”

But getting away, doesn’t have to meet physically leaving town. My esthetician, a solopreneur, doesn’t get a lot of vacation time, often working six days a week. She has to be very intentional in scheduling her time off and recently blocked ten days straight for her stay-cation. “I wanted it to be more than a weekend here or there,” she explains, “I need it to feel like a real vacation, even though I plan to be home for most of it.” She has big plans to catch up on her home improvement projects, do some creative writing, and visit a friend for a couple of days.

Essential Energy for Parents
If you have young kids at home, getting “away” is more challenging. When you’re a parent, you’re so busy taking care of everybody else that self-care often slips to the bottom of the list. But recharging your batteries isn’t a luxury. It’s essential.

YOU are essential.

If you have a partner or babysitter available, take advantage of it and schedule some time for yourself. If you don’t have access to a sitter, you may have to sneak in your stay-cation in mini bits. This could look like taking a bath (alone—no kids), walking around the block (alone—or with the dog, if you’d like), or giving yourself permission to ignore the laundry and dishes to allow me-time after the kids have gone to bed. Do whatever works best for you, and please give yourself some extra grace as you do it.

Solar Energy
By February, the dark days of winter can have even the most productive people feeling depleted, especially if you live in a cold weather area. Hello Minnesota! While you may not have access to a sunny beach, you do have the sun and its energy-giving, mental health-boosting Vitamin D right here. Replenish your energy levels with solar power by getting outside for some fresh air and sunlight. Even in cold weather, you’ll be amazed what the crisp fresh air can do to your outlook.

Sweat Equity
The midwinter slump is when you need to get up and move the most. Exercise is consistently proven to enhance productivity and reduce energy-sucking stress.

If you look at my friend Jody’s calendar and you’ll see her workouts are time-blocked, just like her meetings. This busy professional makes fitness a priority.

“Balancing home and work life can be challenging, so looking at my schedule ahead of time to say ‘here’s 30 or 60 minutes’ makes exercise a priority and part of my regular routine,” she explains. “It’s my me time where I reboot to ensure I’m ready to tackle all that lies ahead. Exercise makes me more productive, less stressed, a better employee, wife and mom.”

Not sure where to start? Schedule at least three 30-minute workouts every week. Make it fun! Pop on your headphones and dance like nobody is looking. Try beginner yoga or snowshoeing in the park. Do something that makes you smile.

Interested in learning yoga? I’ve been doing these classes with Adriene and really liking them.

Creative Connections
Hobbies bring balance to busy lives. They have a way of decluttering your mind and allow you to take a break from your every day stressors. Think you don’t have time? Think again. Dust off your bowling ball, take a virtual cooking class, join a Bible study group, learn to play the ukulele (this one is on my bucket list!), throw a ZOOM happy hour, or start an online book club. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, it can help you sharpen your other skills. Studies show that people with outside interests bring more creative energy to the conference table.

Are you a reader? Click HERE for more on how to start a book club.

Rest to Reboot
In addition to exercise and creative stimulus, your body needs rest in order to function optimally. So often we get wrapped up in the hustle and focus on the to-dos that we forget about the importance of legit downtime. I’m guilty of it. I put so much emphasis on how much I get done in a day, that I don’t prioritize making time to rest. Yet rest is restorative. Simply put, if your circuits are overloaded, catch some zzzz. The brain really is like a battery—it requires sleep to recharge.

What is your Power Source?
How do you recharge? Reduce your stress levels? What activities leave you feeling calm and refreshed? It’s different for everybody. What’s important is finding strategies that work for YOU—ones that effectively recharge your battery. I’d love to hear what you are doing to stay energized. Please share your recharging tips and thoughts in the comments below.

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